My world turned upside down
It is amazing, as many people know, how one day can turn your life upside down with no way possible to upright it.
In October my wife Beth and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. We didnít make a big fuss, just a quiet celebration. We took a four day trip to Williamsburg. It was a wonderful trip.
We walked through the colonial area and spent a day admiring the ongoing excavations in Jamestown. The new buildings are impressive and the researchers always kind enough to discuss what they are doing in the digs that are open to the public.
It was quite warm and we enjoyed a full moon as we took the Ghost Tour and walked through the shady streets and shadows. We didnít see a ghost, or even hear one.
We returned and Beth developed a cough. For the month of November she got worse. Weekly visits to the doctor saw her get new medicines but still get worse.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend she got so bad that she could only sleep leaning forward. On the 26th we took her back to the doctor and were sent for an x-ray.
That night we were called and told that Beth needed an outpatient procedure to remove fluid from her lungs. (Self employed, we have been unable to afford health insurance). The next morning we were told that they couldnít get that done any earlier than the next week. I knew that was wrong.
Bethís younger brother Paul is a doctor in Leesburg. Two weeks before he had fallen asleep driving home and totaled his car; he walked away without a scratch.
That morning (Nov 27th) when we called him, he answered on the first ring (very rare as he is seldom home). He drove to our house, looked at Beth and immediately drove her back to Leesburg to a pulmonary expert who looked at her and then sent her to the hospital for a CAT scan.
Later that night she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit and we were told she had cancer. It was hoped to be a treatable kind, two days later we got the news that it wasnít; it was a renal cell cancer. It had been growing for years, and had spread through her body into her lungs and even into her throat. No operation was possible. It was the worst day of my life, to say nothing about hers
The doctor told us that this kind of cancer just happened sometimes, nothing to do with environment, genetics or lifestyle. It just happens.
Three years ago they had a revolutionary new drug where none had existed before; it had a 15% chance of stopping tumor growth. Then last May the FDA approved another new drug. If you could tolerate it (and we were giving no stats on that) then it had (so far) a 70% rate in stopping and Ė in some cases Ė even reversing tumor growth.
Beth had the first treatment December 3rd and the very next day had improved enough to be moved to a regular room.
Two weeks ago she was well enough (but still very weak and sick) to be moved home. Hospice has come and helped us to set up her bed and check on her. We learned that first week that had we waited even two days before taking her to the hospital, she would have died from collapsed lungs. That she is here today is nothing short of a miracle.
We have, at the very least, been given a chance to spend more time with her. The drug seems to have stopped the tumor growth; but she has lost so much weight and is very weak.
There is always someone with her now, making sure she can get up if needed or get her medicine. We have a new and very demanding lifestyle which has left both of my sons as well as myself with sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Our nephew Enon has moved in for awhile to help and has been an angel. I canít thank him enough.
Bethís law practice is now closed. I am seeking full time employment. If you know of anyone that can use a writer/lawyer/columnist/ radio-guy please let me know. My email address is email@example.com.
There is nothing guaranteed or certain about life; it can change permanently in just moments. Beth turned 56 in December. I have been blessed by having spent many years working with her, sharing our thoughts and lives continually.
She has always been my editor and advice giver. My writing has greatly improved thanks to her. My life was enriched beyond measure due to her. I simply cannot imagine her not being there in the mornings to discuss politics, news and humor with. She is my best friend.
It has been impossible to write my usual columns since this happened, and I donít know about the future. Plans are now made for hours and days ahead, not weeks and certainly not months.
I ask for your prayers for Beth, they do make a difference, you know. My sincere thanks as well for the cards and kind thoughts; I simply have not had the time to thank everyone as I would have liked.