We have landed in September, the start of a new school year. This year is special as both kids will be in the same school. Our daughter will be in Junior Kindergarten and our son in Grade Two. For my wife Anna this was a big deal. When she was diagnosed with triple negative metastatic breast cancer in July 2012, one of the goals she had was to see her daughter start kindergarten. Throughout the ups and downs of surgeries, chemotherapies, and various radiation treatments; at times this goal seemed out of reach.
Last week Anna got to see our daugher walk into her classroom, the timing of which has caught me in a strange set of emotions. The very same day we got the results from her brain MRI. Tumours are growing again. They are smaller in size, but anytime you read the word “progression” a sick feeling takes over. This time was different. She doesn’t have any options left. Radiation is off the table, location of the tumours will likely prevent any possible surgical intervention. This time it’s different.
We have always been very aware of what the probable end game was with Anna’s cancer. But we have never lost hope for longer stability. Getting results like this is never easy. We do our best at refocusing our energy on the good moments while leaving a little space for the hard truths and sadness of what lies ahead.
We have been spending more time with our family, specifically our parents. We are blessed to have all four of them involved in this process; supporting us as we cope. Each parent brings their own set of skills and compassion. Each of them are feeling the pain and torment of slowly watching as the cancer grips on tighter and pulls Anna away. I am loosing my spouse they are losing a daughter.
The best way I can explain how I feel about getting news like this would be comparing it to being in a bright room and suddenly in complete darkness. Initially, you can’t see anything, you feel lost and lose the sense of spatial awareness. Over time your eyes adjust and you can see again. It doesn’t look the same but you can carry on. It was only nine months ago when one doctor suggested that it could be 3-5 months left (she said this with a caveat; the only sure thing when predicting how much time is left, you’re always wrong). So we will continue to hope for more time with minimal pain and high quality of life.
Although Anna hasn’t been able to express herself with the written word, she has shifted to drawing and painting. Her force in creating while tolerating the side effects has been nothing short of heroic. Bellow is a very small sample of what she has been up to lately, I hope you like them as much as I do.