On Wednesday April 8, 2015, Ben sauntered jauntily into the doctor’s office to find out the results of his recent MRI. (OK, he probably didn’t saunter jauntily because he had been in too much pain, but since I wasn’t with him when he went, that is sort of how I picture it. All innocent, thinking he was going to find out that he needed a steroid injection for a bulging disk in his back.) In any case, as I later found out, Ben sat in Dr B’s office that day waiting for him to arrive and tell Ben how he was going to remedy his pain. That’s what Dr B does …. he fixes things. But when Dr B came in the room, Ben tells me he knew something was wrong. Dr B has a habit of half sitting / half standing on a tall stool as soon as he comes into the room, and he always starts typing immediately. But this time he sat down right in front of Ben and looked, well, sad.
Dr. B told Ben that the pain he had been experiencing was due to a metastasized tumour on his sacrum. The original cancer was in the kidney. Renal cell carcinoma. Ugly words.
My Ben …. my strong, steadfast, unbreakable Ben was told he had cancer. And as is so typical of him, he kept that information to himself so as not to upset us, and went about his week getting blood tests, meeting with the kidney specialist, and having a bone scan.
On April 10th, Ben called me to see if I’d be home soon. He was at soccer with Raegan and was hoping to find her a ride home so that he could come home and talk to me. Its funny the things that strike you as odd when you’ve been married to someone for so long. That struck me as odd. And when I told him I thought it was odd, he paused for a split second and took a breath before telling me that everything was ok – that he just needed to talk to me about his back. I remember him pausing before saying that everything was ok.
When I got home there was a message on our answering machine from Dr B, asking Ben to call him about the bone scan. Bone scan? When had Ben had a bone scan? It was 5:20 pm when I heard the message (see…the weird things you remember), and I noticed that Dr. B had left the message at 5:15 pm. Why would he be calling at that time in the evening, and why would he want a return call on his cell?
I phoned Ben at the soccer field to pass on the message, and the sound of Ben’s voice was off. And so I insisted that he tell me WHY he had had a bone scan. And that was D Day. I will never forget the sound of my love’s voice as he told me the news. It is stored forever in my mind and jumps out at me at the oddest of times and takes my breath away. It hurts to know he carried that news alone for three days in order to spare the rest of us some pain, and yet is so typical of My Man.
I will skip over the nastiest parts of information he had been provided throughout the week thus far, except for the part where he had originally been told that the cancer was in his bone. But he called Dr B back and received the first piece of positive news….the bone scan results were clear. The cancer was / is NOT in his bone, but rather the metastasized tumour is sitting ON his bone. Not great, but not as bad as in the bone.
So the last 10 days have been a bit of a blur. There have been some blood tests, a CT scan, a visit with Dr B (attended with my Dad and my sister who stepped up instantly to take on the job of being informed when we were not able to process), and lastly, a phone call from Dr B to let me know that Ben may get into an immunotherapy clinical trial. We don’t know much about that yet, but I know it is very good news and has had extremely positive results.
Tomorrow we see Dr A, who will be the surgeon removing Ben’s kidney and is someone (ironically) that I have known for years. He is very good and I feel a sense of relief to know that he is taking care of Ben. There will also be a spinal surgeon operating on Ben, and the surgeries will take place at the same time to minimize the number of surgeries Ben has to undergo. Tomorrow we will find out more information.Telling the kids was difficult, but they are Ben’s children and they have handled it well. Ben, as usual, remains strong as expected, although the nights are the most difficult due to the pain. I’m not sure why that is – I guess from laying down.
So none of this is really news to anyone reading this, but I wanted to get it into the blog so that I can continue on as we get more news and move through this process of Kicking Cancer’s Ass! I want to document this time for our kids so that they are always reminded of their Dad’s strength and resilience, and so that Ben has somewhere to come and read encouraging comments from his family and friends as everyone helps him navigate this somewhat shitty (but brief) time in our lives. Just a brief blip in the Saint-Onge story.
I will post again after we have been to the surgeon tomorrow.