An unconventional Valentine’s Day

Today is our one-year anniversary. Most people speak of this in terms of relationship status. But today marks a very different anniversary for Entrepreneur and me. It was one year ago today, Valentine’s Day, when he went into surgery to remove a cancer mass in his brain.  Not exactly what you would put in a Hallmark card.

One year ago today, we were waiting for him to get out of post-op recovery. With my support system at my side, the minutes drug into hours until I could lay eyes on him.

And then next 10 days in the hospital were spent getting him stable enough to begin the long, hard road to recovery. I can say, without a doubt, these were the scariest days of my life. The cognitive deficit due to post surgery swelling was disturbingly real. And there were very few reassurances those first crucial days.

Looking back, 2017 sucked. This event forever changed our lives and derailed many of the the plans we’d been formulating for our retirement years. The surgery was difficult enough, but the aftermath has presented challenges that have left me with a loss as to how to overcome.

Targeted radiation to the area of his brain affected by the tumor gave way to 6 months of Bell’s Palsy. Oral chemotherapy is taking its toll with the challenge of providing nutrition to combat the fatigue. He left the hospital with high expectations to rehab and regain his strength and abilities. And he was on track for a remarkable recovery. One year later, he most definitely has impressed his physicians and surgeons, but when the oral chemo is actively destroying any gains, being optimistic and proactive becomes harder and harder. It grates on us mentally, psychologically, physically and spiritually.

Our support group is awesome. These people are the shining light in the middle of this dark journey.

I admit, I took for granted this would simply be a bump in the road. I expected him to rally and overcome obstacles like he’s always done in the past. But, nothing is a given anymore.

One year out…..he’s still part of our lives. He’s trying hard to push through the destructive effects of chemo so he can spend as much time as possible with his daughters and granddaughters. There is so much to live for.

But, there’s been a shift in perspectives. Gone are the aspirations of us having an active, retirement lifestyle. Every day is a struggle. Every day is a gift. Many cancers can be put into remission or destroyed completely. Not renal cell cancer. There is treatment, but no cure or remission. His scans have been clear over the past year, which is a blessing and cause for hope.

Entrepreneur would like to engage and live whatever is left of his life to the fullest. I’d like to say we’re not letting this get in the way, but that would be a lie. No matter how much we say this condition is not going to get in the way of living life to the fullest, the reality is….it’s in the way. If fact, it’s set up a roadblock that seems awfully difficult to get around. As long as he’s on oral chemo, his stamina is reduced and the usual effects of the drug are ever present.

The new normal.

Entrepreneur does not like his “new normal.” This type of chronic cancer steals joy and steals hope. And I’m not sure how to deal with these feelings or help him to overcome the feelings of loss of a meaningful life. I would love nothing more than to focus on enjoying whatever life is left….it’s just so much harder to live it to rather than to say it. I pray for an advancement in the treatment of renal cell cancer… immunotherapy treatment that would help combat the relentless destruction of the body from oral chemo. Clinical trials are underway for new ways to manage this cancer…but….and this is the cynic in me….when the chemo pills cost the insurance company upwards of $5K per month, where exactly is the incentive to find a cure?

So, today, Valentine’s Day, is especially poignant this year. It not only marks the one-year anniversary of brain surgery (two thoughts that should never, ever be combined), but also serves as a reminder that nothing in life is a given. Stop letting trivial arguments get in the way of spending time with those you love. Put aside those family disagreements and ask yourself….if you were in my shoes…just how important those petty irritations and grudges really are.

Happy Heart Day and may those your love know how much you care about them today and always.

12 thoughts on “An unconventional Valentine’s Day

  1. Lisa, this post brought tears to my eyes because you speak so openly about the challenges that you and Entrepreneur have gone through since his cancer, which I applaud you for because life is not always pretty and smooth sailing. On the contrary, it’s filled with twists, turns, and detours that test our faith. Yet, what also touched me about your words is how much they exemplify the power of LOVE.

    This has been my very favorite Valentine’s Day post because it is the true meaning of “unconditional love.”

    Thank you my friend, for your raw honesty and openness. I so admire and respect you.

    Wishing you and Entrepreneur much love, not only today, but always!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had no idea of both of your burdens. Huge healing hugs and may some treatment come along that will change things for the better. I’ve lived through something similar with my mother and it’s not fun one bit.

    Have a blessed Valentine’s Day. You and yours are in my prayers. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Not much makes me feel like crying anymore, so it’s a surprise to discover I have a strange wetness in my eyes. It is a major war in which you can win battles but you know the war will not be won. Celebrate the wins, live with as much joy you can, grit your teeth and pull your shoulders back at every new stumbling block – but know too that sometimes a good cry has to happen. It’s a sad fact that life will never be the same, because the very drug that destroys the bad guys also gets some of the good ones. Every day is a challenge. Every day is a gift. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know some of the feelings you describe and it certainly is difficult dealing with a radically changed reality. You’ve been dealt a very bitter blow and my heart goes out to you. The best you can do is exactly what you are doing now – holding each other close as a family and cherishing every day.
    Sending love to you all … x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lisa, my heart hurts for both of you. I knew about the cancer and the surgery, but I did not know many of the details about what came after. I cannot imagine the strength it must take to get through every day. I am so glad that you have a support group to help you through this.

    Please know that both of you are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Sending you hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh woman, what a brave and honest post you share of life as it is now for you guys. My prayers for complete healing is with you guys for a miracle. I have always seen so much love in your posts with your family. Thanks for sharing your Valentine story. Makes one realize many things we sometimes forget to say thank you for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words. I truly appreciate every word spoken on our behalf…no matter how brief. Our support system continues to expand and we are eternally grateful.


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