Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day One

Time now to fill in some blanks. May 27, 2009 was the day we first heard the word "cancer" and Shannon's name used in the same sentence. The two of us were alone in the car when she told me. I took the news calmly. My immediate reaction was to try to reassure her that everything would be okay. I believed that and, in fact, I still do.

Half an hour later I was breaking the news to our children. What caused that word to stick in my throat and be held back by tears at that point I'm not sure I'll ever know. Maybe it was a rush of memories of all of the years Shannon and I had had together with our children; maybe it was the mistaken notion that a diagnosis of cancer was an immediate death sentence; maybe it was looking into the eyes of my children and feeling the pain that I knew they would feel in just a few moments when the word finally came out of my mouth; maybe it was just having to say the word, "cancer." Whatever the cause, the word did not come easily.

Tears and hugs and reassurances came next, followed by frank talk of a practical plan for dealing with our new challenge. Our routine would be interrupted. There would be hospital stays forthcoming, treatments to take, medical equipment to which we would need to get accustomed. In effect, multiple changes were coming and could not be stopped.

When cancer comes, it doesn't sneak in gradually. It rushes in like a flood, bringing with it previously untouched emotions, untold challenges and an uncertain outcome.