And Then My Wife Got Breast Cancer
"You probably think it'll never be me. It won't happen to us. But what if it does?"
I said that every year to get people to call in and give money during the Cure Kids Cancer Radiothon. Even though I was saying the words out loud it was never real to me. I didn't actually believe it. Cancer happens to other people, not me. Not us.
Now it has happened.
On May 25th my healthy 38 year-old wife, Crystal, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The crazy thing is that I knew she had cancer before she called me sobbing to tell me the news.
Crystal found a lump in her left breast. Being the responsible and health conscious woman she is, she scheduled a mammogram. It revealed another small lump she had not noticed and also a troublesome looking lymph node. A biopsy was scheduled. That was when I knew.
Aside from the circumstantial evidence collected to that point -- lump, mammogram, scheduled biopsy -- my gut already told me what my heart was denying and my brain did not yet know, that she was going to be diagnosed with breast cancer. My gut was confirmed when the official word came at 11:24 A.M. on that Wednesday morning.
Stage 2 Grade 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.
I can't even describe how I felt when she told me. I just wanted to get to her side as quickly as possible. But I was not in despair. My gut was also telling me that while this was terrible news, everything was going to be okay, eventually. Maybe it was God with his hand on my shoulder to keep me from freaking out, something I have been known to do.
Crystal's prognosis is very good. The cancer is not aggressive, was only found in the one lump, and was described to us as being "barely stage 2." Treatment will begin tomorrow with a double mastectomy with a simultaneous reconstruction. There is a fair amount of breast cancer history in her family and after weighing the options her doctor gave her for treatment, double mastectomy was what she decided to go with. A few of her lymph nodes will also be removed to make sure the cancer had not spread. If they come back clean she will not have to endure chemotherapy. You might be wondering if she had the genetic testing done to see if she carried the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. She tested negative for both genes.
My wife is one of the best people I know. The fact that she was still single and never married when I met her still boggles my mind but lucky for me, dudes are stupid. Her attitude about fighting cancer is very positive and upbeat. It is occasionally overwhelming for her but I don't think it's the cancer that gets to her. You see, there is no better mother on the planet than Crystal. I see it every day. She was born to be a mom. She's way too strong for cancer to bring her down. Needing to take a break from being a mom so that she can get well is what bothers her. Luckily we have family who can take care of the kids while, for a change, I take care of her.
I am thankful that I have a job that can be done from anywhere with electricity and an Internet connection, and just as importantly, bosses who are more than fine with me doing so. So next week I will be doing the morning show from my basement while Tasha is still in the studio so that I can be nearby if Crystal needs something.
My wife and I are different in a lot of complimentary ways. We balance each other out. One thing we share is our sense of humor. Like me, she believes laughter is great medicine. It is evidenced when she tells people: "On the bright side, I get to have a boob job and insurance will pick up most of the bill!"
Lastly, Crystal wanted me to include the following for every woman who reads this: "People always ask what they can do to help. You can help by doing your self breast exams and go get a damn mammogram."