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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cancer - How It Has Affected and Is Affecting My Family

Part II - Family Traditions

    Around December 20th my wife began having pains in her lower abdomenal area. She made an appointment to see her physician again and went in on the 23rd for a follow-up visit. I went with her, as I did on many occasions. The doctor stated that the pains were caused by swelling of the lymph nodes in those areas, and that her symptoms were suspicious of some type of lymphoma. The doctor wanted to order more tests, but, since it was the last day before the long Christmas weekend started, instead of sending her through the normal process, she sent her to the hospital's emergency room, that way the test results would be in her hands that same evening. She had a biopsy scheduled for January 7, 2011, and until the results were in no one, not one single doctor (she was seeing three different ones concurrently by then), would give her even a "most-likely" answer regarding her condition.
    During our lovely six-hour stay in the ER they ran more blood tests, a urinalysis, and a CT scan. The blood tests and the urinalysis results came back inconclusive, but the CT scan showed that all of her lymph nodes, as well as her spleen, were enlarged...some bigger than golf balls. The doctor, due to liablity reasons refused to give us a "probable" diagnosis, but did inform us that the it was no longer "very suspicious" of lymphoma, but was "extremely suspicious."
    We had plans to spend the next evening - Christmas Eve - at her sister's house with her family. It had already gone from a small gathering of family members to a fairly large gathering of family and close friends. Given the information that we had at the time, my wife decided that we would have "the best Christmas ever!" She also decided that, instead of "spending the evening" with the rest of her family, we would all spend the night there and open presents as a family in the morning. Of course, she never mentioned the "best Christmas ever" idea...just that it sounded like a lot of fun. The thing is, her brother and sister began to suspect that something was going on, but they refused to make any comments...just in case.
    One of the family traditions at these holiday get-togethers is to play a game of Pictionary. My wife and her sister are the "dynamic duo" of the family - an unstoppable force that has rarely ever been beaten. The one time that her brother and I beat them, a never-ending dispute started in which they denied that we won, and we, in turn, denied them. Since that time I have refused to partake in the tradition - no need to have a dispute between me and my wife! As it was Christmas Eve, my wife insisted on playing the traditional game. My sister-in-law reminded my wife that there was no way I was going to play, which would leave her brother without a good partner. My wife said, "He'll play tonight," and her sister caught on. "OK! WHAT'S GOING ON?" she my wife explained it all to her. They both agreed that she should tell her brother, and just as she started to he changed the subject and left the room.
    During the course of the game, which, for once, was a close one, my brother-in-law accused his sisters of cheating. This prompted a heated banter that ended with my wife proclaiming that this was "the last game of Pictionary EVER!" My brother-in-law proceeded to grab the die, all the drawing paper and all the pencils. He said to her, "TAKE IT BACK! TAKE IT BACK NOW!"...telling us that he knew that there was something very serious going on with her, but he wasn't ready to deal with it at the moment.

Coming up...Cancer - Part III - The Results Are In

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