Learning Whether My Husband Is Cancer Free
by Carol Gee, MA
Entering the Air Force at 18 years old, my husband Ronnie believed that the military shaped him into the person he is today. His 20 years of service took him to places such as England, Italy, Japan, Panama, and a number of stateside locations.
We met while he and I were both stationed on the same base. For more than 20 years, the two of us sped down the highway fairly unscathed. At 23 years old, our vows, “For better or for worse… in sickness and in health” were simply words repeated while standing in front of the chaplain at our base’s small chapel. It wasn’t anything two airmen in love gave much thought.
When Ronnie was first diagnosed with prostate cancer, I went into warrior mode. After two heart attacks, the second which required quadruple bypass surgery, a mini-stroke, and foot ulcers brought on by his diabetes, I’d already become his health advocate, reciting all of his health issues and treatments to every doctor or specialist needing this information.
Thus, my first step was learning everything that I could about prostate cancer. I began by reading the brochure provided by our radiology oncologist on our very first visit. Ronnie is not much of a reader (unless it’s the TV Guide), leaving this to me. His trust in me to seek the best treatment for him was humbling.
I learned that prostate cancer occurs when normal cells within the prostate gland mutate and grow out of control, forming into a tumor within the prostate. As the tumor was only in one quadrant of Ronnie’s prostate gland, this meant that we’d caught it early, thank goodness. Subsequently, our oncology team and I decided upon non-invasive radiation therapy administered five days a week across eight weeks.
Married for over five decades, we’d weathered all of the above together, I didn’t see why this challenge would be any different. Running my own small business allowed me to accompany Ronnie to all his treatments. It was important to me that he didn’t undergo them alone.
Having excellent insurance and living close to an outstanding cancer facility relieved a lot of stress. This was especially helpful as a cancer diagnosis takes both an emotional toll as well as a financial toll on all involved.
This past May marked four years since Ronnie’s diagnosis and treatment. At his recent post-radiation labs, we were told they were better than expected, leaving me optimistic that in 10 months he will be cancer-free.
And, if not? Frankly, I can’t allow myself to focus on that. Staying positive is my superpower. It allows me to keep moving forward. So, we’ll simply deal with whatever comes next. The same way we’ve dealt with the many other challenges we’ve faced throughout our 50 years together.
Admittedly, every now and again my mind touches on that place inside me where fear constantly lives. It’s the fear that the cancer is still there or will re-appear, fear of another health crisis, and fear of losing my husband – my soulmate. If I’m truthful, I remain equal parts terrified and hopeful.
Waiting 10 months or 310 days, I do have faith that we’ll continue to weather whatever happens next, but there are times when my faith starts to waiver. And I’m then reminded of what the physicist and author Edward Teller once said about faith.
“When you come to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: Either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly.”
Carol Gee, a retired university administrator and military veteran, is author of five books. Her most recent is Telling Stories, Sharing Confidences (Stories of Kindness, Humor, and Other Musings for Uncertain Times). To learn more about Carol, visit her website at VenusChronicles.net.