Today I Learned That My Wife Has Cancer
April 30, 2015

Today, my wife had an appointment with the ear, nose and throat specialist she has been seeing for some time, and we got some bad news we weren't expecting.

In 2014, my wife found that a lump had formed behind her ear, and it wasn't going away with casual treatment. We figured it made sense to see a doctor about it, and he referred us to the local specialist, who decided it was worth performing a biopsy on the lump. That didn't determine anything useful, so she prescribed a CT scan.

The CT scan was expensive--around $1500, in case you were wondering about the going rate--but the hope was that it would tell us whether or not the lump was cancerous and worth worrying about, or just a benign tumor. The latter seemed like the most likely scenario, since lumps such as the one that had formed behind my wife's ear are supposedly benign 80% of the time. Unfortunately, the CT scan didn't definitively rule out cancer.

At that time, a few months ago, the specialist outlined our options. We could continue to monitor the lump and hope it went away, or we could have it surgically removed. We were referred to a surgeon in Albany, about 90 miles away, for a consultation. He agreed with the local specialist, who advocated for its removal via surgery, since we couldn't say whether it was or wasn't malignant. Why take the chance?

Surgery was a big deal for my wife, who understandably didn't look forward to the notion of having someone cut her open, but the day finally came and went. On April 17, the lump was removed successfully, and then my wife started her recovery process, which she managed like a real trooper. Today, her stitches were removed and the local specialist sat us down to share the results of the test that was automatically conducted on the lump.

Carefully, the specialist stressed that my wife has what is called "low grade" cancer, and that's the first time anyone really used the 'c' word. It was also the first time my gut did a flip-flop since the start of the whole ordeal, maybe because my mom lost an eye to cancer when I was a child (though she has been alive and well ever since, at least). The worst of the cancer was already removed, we knew, in the form of the lump that prompted us to look into the matter in the first place. However, some cancer cells remain that couldn't be seen with the naked eye, and those are free to do whatever they like unless they are tended to with one of two possibilities: radiation or additional surgery to remove the lymph node.

We're now in the "get used to the idea" phase, and my wife has been telling all her friends and family on social media and such.

Whatever happens next--and surgery is the likely route that we'll follow--this is going to take up a lot of space in my head for the next few months and maybe beyond. I don't expect much of anything to change around here, but I wanted to tell you all what's up because my expectations could be entirely wrong. I don't plan to talk about the matter a lot more here on my blog, because frankly I've already been dealing with stress and anxiety issues and I've been trying not to dwell on that stuff. But I checked with my wife and she said I could share, and that felt like the right thing to do since this community has become such an important piece of my daily routine.

So now you know. Let's go back to talking about more awesome things again… like video games!

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pickhut pickhut - April 30, 2015 (02:39 AM)
I know this is obvious, and you already know yourself, but the best thing you can do for her is support her through the whole thing. My mom recently went through chemotherapy over the last few months, and now she's just going through the phase of IV therapy once every three weeks for the next few months, and I would be lying if I said it was a smooth experience. There's going to be ups and downs, but you'll come out better, probably much stronger than when you started, in the end.
joseph_valencia joseph_valencia - April 30, 2015 (04:40 AM)
Damn, I'm really sorry to hear this. I wish your wife the best of luck in fighting that cancer.
Suskie Suskie - April 30, 2015 (05:43 AM)
That's awful to hear, but it sounds like it could have been a lot worse. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery :)
EmP EmP - April 30, 2015 (06:14 PM)
I'm very sorry to hear that but I'm heartened by the strategic use of the words 'low-grade'. All the best, to the pair of you.
JoeTheDestroyer JoeTheDestroyer - May 01, 2015 (11:40 AM)
Jason, I wish you and your wife the best. I hope you both stomp this thing into the ground and put it behind as swiftly as possible.
wolfqueen001 wolfqueen001 - May 02, 2015 (12:53 AM)
Whoa. I'm sorry to hear that... Cancer is hard to deal with at any stage, regardless of who's affected. I'm also going to be cautiously optimistic about the use of the term "low-grade", and will say that I feel quite confident that you'll both make it through this. It sounds like it was caught early, too, and that makes a full recovery even more likely.
JANUS2 JANUS2 - May 02, 2015 (04:15 PM)
I am sorry to hear about this and I hope everything goes well for you both.
Genj Genj - May 02, 2015 (10:33 PM)
My condolences. Working in healthcare I've seen how emotionally, physically and financially stressful such a situation can be. Fortunately it sounds like your wife has a good prognosis - if I'm interpreting it right, it sounds like they'll be working to prevent it from metastasizing elsewhere or returning. Best wishes.
Masters Masters - May 04, 2015 (06:42 PM)
So sorry to hear this news, Jason. I know you'll take care of her; take care of yourself too.

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