I admire my wife…

Patty truly amazes me every day!  She has a strength about her, both inside and out!  Sometimes I think I know why God chose to give her the cancer and not me.  Plain and simple… I wouldn’t do as well as her.  She’s already been victorious against cancer.  I’m learning that once diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s all about how you chose to walk through this journey.  Patty walks the walk!  She didn’t choose to be afflicted with breast cancer, but she did have a choice of how she would deal and cope with this difficult diagnosis.  She chose to not be filled with angst and bitterness wondering “why me?”  She chose to not be filled with denial, rage or depression.  Patty’s not allowing cancer to dictate who she is or how she’s going to live her life!  She’s faced this journey with courage, love, hope and Faith, the entire time keeping a sense of purpose and doing so with grace and dignity!  I truly admire my wife!!!

I wanted to let you know that Patty is doing really well.  She’s made a quick recovery from the surgery and  it looks like she’s turned the corner from the last chemo infusion and is slowly getting her strength back.  We’ve only got eight weeks to go until her last treatment!  Last night Patty said: “I can do anything for eight weeks!”  And, she can!

Kauai in June!!’

Monday morning… It’s pushing 11:30 a.m. We’ve been at the hospital for about an hour now. We’re in the pre-op room. Right now Patty is wearing her paper gown hooked up to some kind of heater attached to the gown like an astronaut pre-orbit suit! It’s keeping her nice and warm! They just took all her vitals and everything is great! Blood pressure is low… Temp is normal and oxygen level is 100%! She did tell me earlier that she was feeling pretty weak this morning from the chemo.

Patty is pretty scared this morning! I’m doing what I can to keep her mind occupied but she still gets weepy at times. I have to say that i married on tough woman! She allowed to be frightened at times! We’ll get through this today and keep going forward. I told her to just remember… three more chemo infusions to go… two grandchildren and one more on its way… one day at a time… and a partridge in a pear tree!!! (i throw things in like that to test if she’s listening… she generally tunes me out!). The good news is that they moved her surgery up an hour, from 1:00 p.m. to noon! It’ll last about an hour… Recovery for an hour… Then we ho home. Hopefully we’ll be home around 4 or so.

This round of chemo was pretty rough on Patty. Saturday being the hardest day! It really took her for a loop! She was so fatigued and weak… she actually passed out! That was pretty scary for both of us!!! I learned I need to really keep a closer eye on her on those days!

We’ve decided that when all is said and done, we’re going back to Kauai for a couple weeks!! Probably in June. I think we’ve earned it!

Well, she’s going to be going into surgery soon. I’ll keep you posted on how things go.

Ok… it’s now a little after 5:00 p.m.  It turned out that moving the surgery up an hour didn’t work!  The surgeon was running behind so they didn’t get Patty in until just before 1:00 p.m.  I hung out in the waiting room and the surgeon came out about 1:45 p.m. and said “She did great!  Everything went as planned!”  That was good news.  I hate waiting while I know my wife is in the other room, sedated, with a surgeon digging around inside her!  It always seems like the minutes go by like hours!  But, this was quick.  The surgeon left and I waited in the room some more.  A nurse came and got me around 2:30 p.m.  I went into the recovery room and there she was… bright eyed and bushy tailed!  You’d never know she just had surgery!  She was all smiles (I think that was because she was relieved the procedure was over!)  She looked at me and said she felt great and was ready to go home!  Wow!  What a shocker.  I expected to find my wife all grogged out and on the verge of throwing up!  But, nope!  She was feeling good!  She got dressed and we were home by 3:00 p..m.  I wish all surgeries went like this.  She’s now plopped on the couch drinking a berry smoothie talking to her sister, Kathy, on the phone.  She’s back to normal!

Ok… now that that’s over, we can get back to the “fight!”

We need to take it one day at a time!

Last night I leaned over and gave Patty a kiss on top of her shiny head and it hit me… “She’s really dealing with cancer!”  Please don’t get me wrong, we’ve been living this for the past six months, but last night was different.  It really hit me… hard!  The reality of all this came over me like a ton of bricks!  I felt bad for her and very frustrated for both of us.  I really want to fix this and make this go away for her, but I can’t.  I think I may have been running on auto-pilot for the past six months.  Having many years behind me in law enforcement, maybe my past training had taken over… whatever the problem is, handle it!  Don’t let the emotional part get in the way!  Just handle it!  

We were delivered some very frustrating news yesterday.  Without getting into specifics, Patty’s having some complications from the surgery.  (Don’t worry, there’s no more cancer)  The doctor feels they need to go back in to correct this problem.  So, surgery is scheduled for this coming Monday, Oct. 18th.  Surgery is at 1:00 p.m. and should take about an hour.  They say she’ll come home that same day.  

I’m really concerned about this procedure.  Patty just had chemo this past Tuesday.  If you remember my last post, I talked about how we’ve pretty much figured out how she’ll be feeling on a day-to-day basis over the next couple of weeks.  Well, my guess is she’ll probably be really fatigued come Monday!  Plus, they say that between day 7 through 14 following chemo, her white cells will be at their lowest and this is a time when she’s the most susceptible to infection.  My question is… How will all that affect her recovery from the surgery?  Another question I have is…  Will this procedure delay her next chemo treatment?  That’s the last thing we want!  We’re on a schedule and really don’t want any delays!  Patty put a call in to her Oncologist late yesterday to ask those specific questions.  She hasn’t gotten back to us yet.  

My hope is all this will be behind us come June 22, 2011 (Patty’s 1 year cancerversary).  Our life will be somewhat back to normal and we’ll look back at all this and say “Man, that was really messed up!”  (I do have another phrase for “messed up” but it’s probably not appropriate to put it in this post!)

“Three… two… one!”

If you haven’t figured it out yet, my wife is an amazing woman!  Yesterday was her third chemo infusion.  Yes, number three!  A milestone in her treatment!  The half way mark!  Patty was actually excited yesterday to have her next treatment!  I mean really excited!  I asked her “why?” to which she replied: “Because I’m one more treatment closer to being cancer free!”  She truly means that!  What a great positive attitude!!! 

Patty has done really well over the past week.  We’ve noticed a pattern through these treatments.  She deals with days “1 through 3” pretty well following her infusion, other than losing her taste buds.  Fatigue and body aches don’t really hit her until day “4” and lasts pretty strong through day “11”.  It seems like she starts to turn the corner about that time and begins to get stronger as each day comes.  Her taste buds start coming back about day “16” so this is when I start really cooking for Patty!  By day “18” or so, she’s doing pretty well, not back to normal, but much better than the previous week.  Then day “21” comes around and we get to do the whole cycle all over again!  

I hear people saying that this is just a “bump in the road” for us.  We’ve actually used that phrase a few times, but yesterday I had a chance to reflect on the past six months.  Sorry, but it’s hardly been a “bump.”  I don’t know the right word to describe this experience, in fact, I don’t need to find the correct word.  What I can say is that these past six months have not been easy!  But, it’s been a trial that has brought the two of us closer to each other like never before and it’s brought the two of us much closer to God. It’s been an experience that has literally turned our lives up-side-down as well as put our lives on hold.  But, you know what?  We’ve both accepted our lives for what they are right now and I’m confident we’ll get through this and carry on!  We’re both excited to see what the future has in store for us!  We talked yesterday and Patty told me that she’ll never take life for granted again.  That she wants to take in all she can daily.  We now have a new granddaughter and another grandchild on the way.  There’s a lot to look forward to! 

Since we’re trying to be as positive as we can through this ride, we’re now saying we’re on the “Countdown through Chemo”… “three… two… one!”  December 14th can’t come soon enough!

Introducing… Avery Nicole Cox!

Here’s the proud grandma holding our newest grandchild, Avery Nicole Cox!

 

 

 

 

This is what it’s all about!  The phone rang yesterday morning around 7:30 a.m.  Whenever the phone rings that early, Patty generally lays in bed and gives me privilege of answering.  Yesterday was unusual because the phone rang and she bounded out of bed like a woman on a mission.  It was like she knew what this call was about.  It was Nicole.  She announced that her water broke and Joey was out surfing and she couldn’t reach him.   Fortunately, Nicole lives less than ten minutes from us so we gladly zipped over to her house to give her support.  Once there, grandma (aka “Mom”) knew what to do to easy any apprehension Nicole may have had.  Everything was calm.  My job… to time the contractions.  I’ve done this before!  Joey  called shortly after we arrived and rushed home.   We followed them to the hospital and then, as with any birth, we were in the waiting game.  Of course Avery decided to take her time entering the new world.  Can you blam her?  She was all tucked away in a warm cosy place…

After a long day, Avery finally gave into Mother Nature and showed herself to the world! 

Patty was just beaming (as  you can see from this picture!)  She’s such proud grandma, times two!.  This is just what the doctor ordered for her!  Yesterday was an amazing day.  Whatever issues Patty and I are dealing with, suddenly disappeared!  It was  a great feeling, even if it was for one day!

Nicole is doing great and hopefully she and Joey got some rest last night because their lives will now change, forever!

Congratulations to Nic and Joey and also to the proud grandma!

I’ve got an idea…

This is me and our granddaughter, Mia, at the pool.

When I started this blog, part of my intent was to document this journey so friends and family could keep up with what’s going on with Patty and me.  The other part was to document this journey in hopes that it could help others who may be in the same situation.  This particular post is intended for other husbands who may have just learned that their wife or girlfriend was diagnosed with breast cancer.

16 years ago I vowed to Patty that I would love, honor and cherish her in “sickness and in health.”  I meant that when I said it and I still mean it.  There has not been one moment I have ever doubted that. 

As the husband of a breast cancer victim you become the first line of defense for your wife.  You need to respond to her every worry, concern, and fear about a disease that would become almost as much yours as it is hers.

I may not have had the suspicious lump in my breast.  I didn’t physically have the surgery and all that would follow.  I’m not the one going through the chemotherapy infusions, the nausea or fatigue.  From the moment Patty told me “I have breast cancer”, I found my (our) life unravel in ways I could have never imagined nor predicted.  In a sense, the husband’s job is a tough one, maybe not as tough as hers, but it definitely has its challenges.  You not only have to make sense of cancer, the good and bad, but at the same time you have to learn how to filter information to keep your wife from falling apart. That is no small job.  I’m not a psychiatrist or psychologist.   I’m not a counselor.  I’ve had no training in the world of breast cancer.  I’ve had no medical training and I’m not a doctor or a nurse.  Bottom line, I’m just a husband who loves his wife very much who is flying by the seat of his pants, and at times, struggling to do what I feel is best for my wife!

When I learned Patty had breast cancer, I wanted to learn as much about the disease as I could.  I thank God for the internet.  I was overwhelmed with information and I took it all in like a sponge.  I will admit, there is a lot of information regarding breast cancer that is not good news, but it’s a reality.  I had to sort through that information and cling onto the hopeful info while also being realistic.  On the other hand, Patty also wanted to know as much as she could about the disease.  As with any other woman in her shoes, her frame of mind was different from mine.  She focused on the negative information which, in turn would frighten her.  Actually “Frighten” isn’t the correct term.  Using the word “terrorize” is more appropriate.  I had to have some strict talks with Patty about researching on the internet and even threatened to put “parental controls” on the computer.  (even though I’m sure she still peeks at the internet!)

This disease is something that totally consumes your life 24 hours a day!  Being a man, I have that “male” mentality…  “I can deal with this… Don’t worry about me, I’m a guy!”  “Guys are strong… Guys eat stress for breakfast!”  I think I’ve done pretty good over the past five months.  I’ve been strong for Patty and tried to be as understanding and emphatic as I can.  I’ve had maybe two days over this time where it was very difficult for me.  Funny, but I can’t put my finger on any specific event that caused me to just want to throw my hands up, but I know I did feel that way.  I feel guilty about that!  As a result, the one good thing is that my relationship with God has become much stronger as he and I have had many discussions where I’ve prayed to him to help me stay strong!  I know he’s in my corner!  I’ve recognized that I need to take care of myself.  Bottom line, I need to take care of myself to be able to properly take care of Patty!  Recognizing this, I decided to join a Breast Cancer Support Group for husbands.  Check this out… there are NO support groups specifically designed to help the husbands of breast cancer patients!  I find that appalling. 

So, guess what.  I started doing some research and leg-work to see what I need to do to start one!  I’m really excited about this.  I may be able to do this or I may not.  But if I’m able to pull this off, it’ll be something that will be really good for me and will help other husbands in my shoes!  Wish me luck.  I’ll keep you posted on how this goes!

T.G.I.F.!!!

Patty and Nicole… Notice the “baby bump!”  She’s due any day now… the tummy is much bigger!

 

 

 

Thank God it’s Friday!  It’s been quite a week.   If someone would have told me six months ago that our life would be so upside-down right now, I’d tell them they were crazy!  Everything was going so well.  Patty retired.   We moved back to San Diego.  I found a great job.  The girls were both pregnant!  Wow… everything was falling into place.  Just when we were settling in and getting comfortable… God noticed and decided to wake us up and give us a challenge!  Challenges are good… keeps you on your toes!  Right? 

Monday was my last post.  In that post I was boasting how well Patty was doing from the last chemo infusion.  Last Saturday she was down for the count with fatigue.  Sunday, she was up and doing great.  But… Monday came here and the fatigue decided Patty wasn’t tired enough so he had his way with her.  She was down again for all of Monday and most of Tuesday.  She started getting her strength back on Wednesday and by the end of Thursday she was tired, but almost back to normal.  She’s been having little bouts with nausea but anti-nausea med’s seem to help quickly.  Today she seems to be doing great. 

Patty had an appointment with the Reconstruction Surgeon this past Tuesday.  He said everything was looking great other than the fact that the incision hasn’t healed 100%.  (it seems to be taking forever!)  The good thing is that he cleared her to start Jazzercise again, but low impact.  She’s ok with that.  But, since the incision isn’t 100% healed, he won’t let her use the pool!  Too bad since this week the weather has been in the mid to high 90’s with high humidity. 

We met with another Radiologist Oncologist yesterday.  He was very very thorough with us.  He used the paper that covers the exam table in the room as his drawing pad and gave us a Cancer 101 crash course!  He explained in layman’s terms everything one needed to know about breast cancer.  From how they find it, ultra-sound it, diagnose it, grade it, stage it, chemo it, radiate it… etc.  The bottom line in this appointment came at the end when he said: “In my opinion, you don’t need radiation therapy!”  That was great news and we’re happy Patty doesn’t need to extend her treatment any more than necessary.  If everything goes according to plan, December 14th will come around with her last chemo infusion then it’s back to healing and taking our lives off hold!  We pray that it stays that way! 

So, since Patty’s feeling pretty good today, and you know Patty, she jumped at the chance to go back to her love, Jazzercise!  She took a low impact class and absolutely loved it.  Everyone was really happy to see her back!  She then flew home, showered and met Nicole at the movies (some chick flick!)  She ran over to Kohl’s after the movie and bought a new pair of jeans (since she’s swimming in all her old jeans because she’s lost so much weight) and came home.

Speaking of weight… Patty’s probably lost about 20+ pounds over this whole ordeal.  She lost weight going through the initial diagnosis phase due to stress and anxiety.  Now she’s losing weight because her “taster” is all out of whack and food doesn’t taste good to her.  You’d think she’d stop losing weight with all the root beer floats and smoothies she’s consuming!  But, nope! 

Overall, the chemo is taking its toll on her, but once we’re at about 10 to 12 days into it following the infusion, she does great.  Her taster should start coming back by Sunday or Monday, then I’m going to do some serious cooking for her!