The thing about Cancer and the medical world is, if you haven’t had to navigate your way through it before, it’s like learning a new language. It feels like you are in a foreign country where everyone seems to know what is going on but you.
You see, my husband has this large mass atop his right lung which was spotted in an X-Ray in an Urgent Care Facility almost exactly one year ago. How and why it was detected is a whole other story which I will tell you now.
Paul seemed to be slowing down a bit in the months leading up to our findings. He was slowing down on our walks, resting more and I just assumed he was “buying in” to the fact that he had turned seventy and was “getting old”.
Around Christmas and perhaps even before that, I had noticed that when he sat in this particular chair his neck looked a bit larger. I was thinking that it was probably because we had been enjoying the food of the season and maybe he had put on a little weight or that the chair didn’t have good head support. It was not so noticeable that it made me really think anything more about it, but every once in awhile, I would think “hmmmmm”.
As the New Year came along, I began to notice that his face seemed a bit puffy or swollen, particularly on one side and mostly in the morning. I thought he should check in with a doctor. He didn’t notice it at all and thought I was crazy when I brought it to his attention. It got better as the day went on so he didn’t feel the need to go. I also noticed he was sighing a lot when he exerted himself. I would ask what was the matter, and he attributed it to allergy season etc. I bought it because he has allergies and the seasonal allergies were different on Cape Cod than when we lived closer to Boston. I urged him to have it checked out. When the swelling seemed to get worse on the right side of his face, and his eye was very puffy, I finally called the doctor myself and set up an appointment for him.
I went with him one evening and met his new doctor who decided to treat him for a sinus infection. A little time passed and it got worse. Paul went back a second time thinking his medicine wasn’t working because the swelling had progressed. The doctor added a medicated nasal spray. No changed occurred with the nasal spray.
Next he began waking up with purple colored ears. Then purple spider vein blotches appeared on his chest. Paul didn’t even notice them and there were many. We were in the bathroom together one morning when he appeared from the shower and I saw all of these blotches and was quite alarmed. Paul still didn’t see what all of the fuss was about. One more trip to the doctors occurred to show him these blotches, and the doctor looked at his recent blood work and said that there was no indication of any problems. He didn’t seem concerned.
When he woke up one morning with a very swollen face, purple blotches on his chest, purple colored ears and a purple colored hand, I got extremely concerned and turned to Google. I typed in “purple blotches on chest” under Images. Up popped two pictures of a man with a swollen face and the time stamped on the bottom of the picture as 7:30 am. It showed a second picture of him looking like his normal self. It was very similar to Paul. There were also pictures of purple spider vein blotches on his chest strikingly similar to Paul’s blotches. Then I saw the letters SVCS. Superior Vena Cava Syndrome. “Superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS), is a group of symptoms caused by obstruction of the superior vena cava (a short, wide vessel carrying circulating blood into the heart).”
I called an RN I knew who I had been talking to about Paul’s unusual symptoms and she seemed a bit alarmed when I told her what I found. She said that he needed to go to Urgent Care right away where they would be able to do an X-Ray and that I should tell them what I thought it was. I called home to let Paul know what I had found and that we should be going to Urgent Care that very day and he agreed.
X-Rays were taken. A large mass sitting atop his right lung was found. Our learning of a new language had begun.
(if you read my first blog “Without Our Permission”, you will learn what happened next.)
4 thoughts on “Learning A New Language Called Cancer”
I can relate to all what you said, my mother has cáncer.
Hey! The best récipe as you know, is having a stupid ¨kid¨, that makes her laugh, the other things of cleaning her house the f…King dog and the rest is irrelavent. Laugh is the best medicine.
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Oh Lynne! I just found that you had started following my Blog, and so came to look at your Blog. And WHaaT a story! Too many feelings inside me to comment properly, but I am followin you now, as well. I have a kind of similar story in that varioys symptoms apoeared but ut was not recognised as cancer until I was at death’s door. Mine was Lymphoma, and when finally diagnosed I had three large tumoyrs in my abdomen, three in my chest, many around my neck and windpipe, and under my arms. For a whole year the doctor had been saying there was nothing wrong with me even though I had lost five stones in weight, was by now in a wheelchair, and could hardly breathe. Your story moves me intensely, and I long to tell mine too. But my Blog is mainly poetry, and I write about all sorts of things. But I long towrite about my cancer. I am in remission now, but have been left blind, wheelchair bound, with no feeling in my hands and feet due to perioheral polyneuropathy caused bu vinblastine whuch was one of my chemo drugs, and fibrosis of the lung caused by the bleomycin, anither of my chemo drugs. My oriblems are not recognised nowm by the medical prifession, or by people in general, but that isnprobably because I am a very confudent, outgoing and effervescentmperson. I long to tell my story. Someone once said to me, “There is life before cancer, and there is life after cancer.” It is SO true. And I felt SO affirmed when you said about the different language and the different world that you enter. It is a shock at the time. I will read more of your postings now. Thankyou for writing this Blog. I wish you and your husband well. God bless you !ynne x
Thank you for writing to me. I feel for you as well. I encourage you to write about your cancer as I find writing about the most difficult challenges in life can be so therapeutic. Cancer steals so much from the person who has the disease and also from the loved one and caregivers. It’s so hard to understand but yet there are blessings mixed with the challenges. Look for them. Please write about it.
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Thankyou Lynne. I guess I DO write about it in a roundabout way, but not so much the actual story of it. I wanted to start a poetry Blog since poetry is all that I have left that I can do. And I wanted a platform for my poetry. I write about blindness, grief, and loss and other things. Moften humour too. But never the actual story of it. No one knows that. I wish that I could write that, but it would not be the right thing for my Blog as my Blog is now. I would not want to write it simply for therapy though, although in a way that would be part of it, but mainly for the message that you CAN get through this. You know, the more emotional aspect of it. So much of what you have written rings true for me too. I hope that you keep writing it. I will keep looking to see if you have written any more. All the very best as much as it can be to you and your husband x
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