In 2000, information and resources regarding esophageal cancer were not as prevalent as other cancers. However, what I read about Stage III with lymph nodes involved, troubled me enough to understand why my friend warned me not to research this cancer.
“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.”
Don’t look at survival statistics, was a piece of advice offered to me. All right… I won’t dwell on cancer patients presented as statistics. That advice was short-lived, when two to five-year survival statistics popped up to stare back at me like smears on my eyeglasses. Enough! I clicked out of the cancer web sites.
Think positive was another piece of advice offered to me. I began to feel like a dog digging for a long gone bone. Like the dog, I refused to quit digging hoping to find stories about people cured. Although stunned by the lethal character of this cancer, I gave myself a go at positive thinking.
Let some of Werner’s attitude of 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 conditions. Cancer cannot take him down. He lives trusting God. Cancer cannot take him down.
Two points crept all over the positive thinking drill. Cancer is no respecter of people, and Werner’s advanced stage of cancer. For the first time in our relationship, I saw vulnerable reach out and touch his physical and athletic strength. It was then, I knew I would lose him to this cancer. I hated knowing it. I told no one.
What I knew forced me to look down a path littered with the ingredients to break my heart. However, it also escalated my commitment to honor Werner’s request about being brave.
Some one wrote, “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 request, He meant I would be immune from the adversary’s mocking voice. I was wrong. The spiritual and emotional assaults began.