I’m so thankful for the many that have come alongside me; my family, and my friends that have become family in this journey. Our hearts are warmed with each prayer, encouraging note, car ride, gift, donation, meal, and well wish.
The early days and nights leading to surgery were long. I was in the most physical pain I have ever felt to date, and the emotional toll of varying diagnosis was enough to put me under. But we all prayed and we fought together.
Then we had a clear diagnosis and surgical treatment plan laid out. It eased my mind. I remember smiling on the drive home the afternoon the surgeon told us that I definitively had cancer, and the potential cost of getting clean margins through surgery. We did not know exactly where we where going, but we knew where we were.
The pain got worse, and I found reservoirs of strength I never knew I had. My face was tearing apart, and my eye was pushing out of its socket. My jaw wrenched with pain that made it hard to speak. This tumor was trying to kill me, and I felt it chasing after my life. I was scared. I felt more fear than I had ever known.
The days grew longer waiting for surgery and the thoughts of the tumor reaching the optic nerve in my eye, thus rendering my cancer inoperable, raced in my head.
We checked into the hospital a couple days early, because my eye had bulged so far out the socket it would not close. The pain was… painful, but moreover it didn’t feel safe or fair to be home anymore. I wanted to go in so that Angie would not carry the burden of care alone.
The surgery date came. I don’t remember it or the day after. Most of it is completely wiped from my memory as if it never happened.
I woke up on the Thursday after surgery, and felt a new pain. like someone was roasting my thigh with a blowtorch.
My throat was sore. I couldn’t breathe. Too many people were talking. I tried to talk, but no one could understand what I was saying.
The blowtorch pain was the skin graft on my thigh, which is about the size of 5 iphones lined up side by side. The treatment of the graft was a heat lamp to further roast the skin and dry it out.
The following nights in the hospital brought more pain, fear, bleeding, vomiting, choking, hallucinating, and night terrors. Those nights were also mixed with seeing some of the people I love most in this world. So there was laughter, and progress, and first steps, and everyone telling me how great I looked.
I was afraid to look in the mirror. I also couldn’t get out of bed. I didn’t look at myself until the Sunday after surgery.
On Monday, I stood in front of the mirror. I was swollen.
I looked under the eye patch. I was a monster.
Back to bed.
Wednesday they sent us home, and the doctors said that my margins were clean. The surgical mission accomplished, and we were happy. Our friends rejoiced.
But the cost…
The cost of clean margins: they cut out my upper right jaw and all of those corresponding teeth.
They took my right sino-nasal cavity.
They cut out my right eye & surrounding area on my face.
A small price to pay for life. Part one completed.
Now on to part two of radiation, and possibly chemo.
Then on to part three of more reconstructive and plastic surgery to put my face back together.
Then part four of speech pathology and occupational therapy to learn how to swallow and speak again.
Meanwhile, we follow up with counseling. physical therapy and monitoring the blood clot in my lung, and hoping I don’t develop another.
We also pray the cancer doesn’t return.
Many many days ahead of us will be hard.
Angie and I will walk through this one step at a time.
We are fighting and we hope you will continue to fight with us.