On Friday, November 16, 2012, we received devastating news. We went to Huntsman for his scan. We knew there was a problem when we met with the doctor and he didn’t discuss the scan first. Usually he will tell us the results first thing. Instead he proceeded to ask Paul how he was feeling. He asked a lot of questions about his gut (tenderness, severe pain, etc.). Paul told him it is the normal dumping syndrome pain. Which can be very severe at times.
After we got that out of the way, he discussed the scan with us. He said, “Unfortunately, I do not have good news for you…you have a couple of tumors growing in your peritoneal cavity. “ What? We were both in shock! I thought, “Did he just say what I think he said?” I knew that was bad news because I had read a lot about Paul’s type of cancer and the likelihood of it spreading to his peritoneal cavity was extremely high. I knew if that happened, we didn’t have a fighting chance!
The oncologist proceeded to tell us that there was no treatment. He told us that they could not do surgery and that chemotherapy would maybe increase his life by a couple of months. When we asked him how long Paul has, he hesitated and then told us typically people with this type of cancer will last about 6-8 months. He told us to remember these are just statistics…Only God knows when it is his time.
I cannot adequately put into words how I felt at that moment. I started sobbing…Millions of things ran through my mind…In fact, things started to flood my mind so quickly that I don’t even really remember what my first thought was besides this is really bad news. Paul was definitely calmer than me. In fact, I was shocked at how calm he was. I think even the doctor was surprised.
The next thing I remember, a social worker came in to talk to us. She was very kind. I honestly don’t remember much of what she said except that we needed to tell our little girls that night about their daddy. I didn’t want to tell them. I didn’t know how to tell them. Seriously, how do you tell a 9-year-old and a 6-year-old that their daddy’s cancer is back and he is going to die? I knew that other people had been through this and they had done it. I just didn’t feel strong enough. How could they be so strong? How did they do it?
We also have three adult children from Paul’s first marriage. Their mom passed away when they were 12, 14, and 16 years old. How were we going to tell them? My heart ached for them too. Yeah, they are adults, but they already lost their mom…I am just the step-mom…they are going to be frightened…now they are losing their dad too. It all just seems so unfair…
We have grandchildren too. Our grandchildren won’t get to know their grandpa…He is such an amazing person to know…
As soon as we left the doctors office we went up and checked out a book called Tear Soup from the library at Huntsman. The social worker highly recommended it and I remembered that a friend who recently lost her husband had told me about it before. I have not read it yet, but Paul has and said it is very good. We also brought home a DVD version that we are going to watch with the girls. I’ll let you know what we think…
While Paul was picking up the book, I started to make some phone calls. I can honestly say that there was serious mourning going on both ends of the phone call. My wonderful family and friends were almost crying as hard as me. It was a prime example of “mourning with those that mourn”. The hardest phone calls I had to make were to the older children (Paul asked me to do it—I think he knew how hard it was going to be).
We got home. Our two youngest daughters were at a friends house. They let them stay there to give us time to try and prepare for telling them the “news”. They knew something was going on as soon as they got home because two of their older siblings were sitting on the couch very red-eyed. Paul told them that his cancer was back. Hailey, our nine-year-old screamed out and started to bawl. She said, “Oh no! That means he is going to die”! I actually was a little surprised at how quickly she caught on. It was very heart breaking…
Sophie, our six-year-old just sat there for a minute and looked at us. She didn’t say anything for a minute. And then she said, “Okay, can I play on the computer now?” Her reaction surprised me as well. I thought she would “act” a little more upset. She is very much a daddy’s girl. Later that evening Paul asked her if she wanted to wrestle, she just simply said, “Nope, you can’t because you have cancer again. “ It made him feel a little sad. He said I can still wrestle with you (she is a serious tomboy). She didn’t really respond. Later that evening she simply looked at him and said, “So, where’s the funeral going to be?’ I was a little worried about her reaction.
By Monday morning, Sophie started asking more questions. She was laying on my bed with me and asked me when Jesus was coming back to earth. I told her we didn’t know for sure, but that it would happen someday. Then she asked about Paul. She wanted to know if he was going to be resurrected after he died. We spent time talking about that. Then she asked me if he was still going to be alive for Christmas. I told her yes. Then she wanted to know if he’d be here for the next holiday…and so on…then she asked about next Halloween. I told I didn’t know for sure, but that I sure hoped so.
Monday afternoon, Paul received a phone call from his oncologist. He told Paul they wanted to biopsy his tumors to see if they could possibly treat it with chemotherapy. The day we found out about the return of his cancer, his doctor told us that they would biopsy his original tumor from his stomach to check for some genetic things to see if there was any kind of chemo that might work (yep, they keep the tumor in storage after they remove it). He said that would take about 3-4 weeks because it was in Ogden. He didn’t seem overly optimistic that they would find something.
When the doctor called Paul he said he had been reviewing his case and discussing it with the radiologist. They both felt that it would be beneficial to biopsy his metastasis instead of the original tumor. Evidently, there are three types of metastasis that can occur. If Paul has one of the three kinds they can attempt to treat it with chemotherapy. So what’s that, a 33.3% chance that they might be able to treat it? Oh how we hope!
Paul will have his biopsy this next Tuesday. He has opted to have it done with a local rather than to be put under with general anesthesia. Paul would have to fast to have a general anesthetic…obviously it is best if he can eat. Every time he has to fast for some medical procedure, he gets behind on eating and then ends up losing more weight. They will use an ultrasound machine to guide them…if that doesn’t work, they will have to use the CT to guide them. I think it sounds painful, but I don’t know… Paul feels it is best. Unless something goes wrong, it will be a day procedure. I don’t know when we will know the results.
We spent Thanksgiving in St. George with my dad. We managed to have a nice time as a family. We want to create as many memories as we can. Because after all, that is what it is all about!
We have been so blessed. There have been so many people sharing their love and kindness with us. We appreciate all the fasting, prayers, letters, food, gift baskets, phone calls, visits, support, etc. There are angels among us! Love you all!