Surviving Stage III The Esophageal Cancer Journey

 

DSCN5562Surviving Stage III The Esophageal Cancer Journey

     "Do not research this cancer," said my friend.
It was the year 2000, my husband was diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma at the Stomach Junction 
We entered The Fifth Gate-survival of Stage Three Esophageal Cancer

In 2000 online information and resources about esophageal cancer were scarce. What information I did find scared me enough to understand why my friend warned me not to research the diagnosis tagged onto my husband, Werner.  Stage III Esophageal Cancer with a few lymph nodes  involved.

     “One esophageal cancer warrior said, “When I heard the diagnosis, I felt like I had been hit with a baseball bat. When I asked about my chances of surviving this disease and heard the poor outcome, I felt like someone hit me again with the baseball bat.”

     I tried to follow a piece of advice offered to me. Do not look at survival statistics.  All right… I won’t dwell on cancer patients presented as statistics.

That advice was short-lived. Two to five-year survival statistics popped up on my computer screen and stared back at me like dirty smears on my eyeglasses. Enough! I clicked out of the cancer web sites.

 The other piece of advice offered to me, think positive, find the stories of people who were cured. Finding none, I began to feel like a dog digging for a long gone bone. Like the dog, I refused to quit digging. Stunned by the lethal character of this cancer, yet I gave myself a go at positive thinking.

Let Werner’s quiet faith and courage wash over you. Focus on the power of his strengths, physical and athletic. He is aggressive and focused. How else could he have climbed more than 100 routes on the Swiss Alps? Cancer cannot take him down.

He grew up racing downhill on a Swiss Ski Team. As director of Loon Mountain’s successful alpine race team, he possesses the everyday physical endurance to set race courses, support his staff, and coach young racers in all kinds of weather and mountain snow conditions. Cancer cannot take him down.

He lives trusting God. Cancer cannot take him down.

     Two points crept all over my positive thinking drill. Cancer was no respecter of people, and Werner’s advanced stage of cancer.

For the first time in our 30-year marriage, physical vulnerability reached out and touched him. Suddenly it hit me. I would lose him to this cancer. I hated knowing it. Inexpressible terror overwhelmed me. I told no one.  I promised him that I would be brave, but the path I saw was littered with enough ingredients to break my heart. What now?

     Somewhere I read, “Courage is not the absence of fear.”  And C.S. Lewis wrote, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”

     I thought when God promised to help me honor Werner’s one request, “You must be brave,” He meant I would be immune from despair’s mocking voice. I was wrong.