I have been on many adventures thus far, but none as near and dear to me as the survivor trip I went on with my Husband Al.
In December of 2016, while in Jamaica, it was apparent there was something off with Al. Unlike the rest of us, his summer clothes didn’t shrink after being stowed away a whole 6 weeks. In this beautiful setting that we started to consider that maybe the weight loss was something more than good genes.
In January of 2017 Al had a scope to see what was happening. A week after that procedure we sat in the doctor office as he said the words you have cancer.
I’m not going to lie, those words cut like a knife. If I thought hearing those words was hard, saying them out loud was worse. His Mum, our kids, our family our friends, each time as I tried to spit the words out it was like admitting defeat.
But within 24 hours after saying the word cancer more and more, defeat started to shift to hope. From hope we went to its all going to be OK. While looking at ALCAN packaging stuck on our garage fridge (my husband is obsessed with finding his name in other places and context) it dawned on us, having a diagnosis, no matter how scary, allows for a strategy to be planned. And no matter what we are about to face #ALCAN
Life continued pretty much as scheduled and the month of February was eventful. The only thing the diagnoses let us drop our guard on? Agreeing to chaperon our sons 17th Birthday at our place. Cancer or no cancer, first and last time that will ever happen! Though I will admit noting Al had just been diagnosed with cancer came in handy when the cops arrived at our door. February is also Al’s Birthday month and we spent a couple of weekends in Toronto celebrating. And of course there was a plethora of tests at hospitals in Kitchener, Cambridge and Hamilton.
Cancer aside, life was good, but the waiting was killer. Rather than sit around waiting for the details of his illness (stage, type, plan) we decided to pack our stuff an go on an adventure. With that off we went to Ocean Riveira Paradise in the Riveira Maya with our some of the people we love the most for some sun, sand and great company.
In March we learned the full picture of Al’s cancer, early stage 3 esophageal cancer. This particular cancer carries a 30% survival rate. And though Al may have lost his breath when he heard that, it was only a moment later when that fear shifted to #ALCAN.
Next came weekly chemo and daily radiation. Monday’s I would take him for blood work then he had to wait 1.5 hours until chemo. During that time we would go out for a proper Scottish breakfast at the Rising Dough Bakery in Preston, walk along the Grand River in downtown Cambridge (or Galt as it known to the locals) or to his favorite place for a stroll, Canadian Tire! Every afternoon we would head to Kitchener for his radiation treatments. Though it may sound ridiculous we both looked forward to these moments together. As the parents of teenagers, its hard to get peace and we were happy to take it any way we could get it!
It was also during this time I hooked him into Young and the Restless. He would be tired following treatment and I took full advantage of his half awareness in front of the TV. Before he knew what happened the conversation shifted from me asking if he minded if I watched Y&R to him asking when we are going to watch! Still to this day 🙂
Following his successful completion of the medical treatments, the next stage was surgery. It is a very serious surgery called Minimally Invasive Ivor Lewis Esophagectomy. Despite the severity I don’t think I have ever met someone so eager to have body parts removed before. On August 1st he went into and came out of surgery in the same manner, with a smile waving his lucky finger! In fact after 4 days in the hospital he was discharged, making him the shortest hospital stay for his procedure on record. When we arrived home, it seems a few of our friends wanted to share that they received the memo that #ALCAN.
In September we received the best news possible. The results of the surgery… Al was cancer free!!!! So naturally we did what we did best and ended this journey how we started, on a beach in the Caribbean. Surrounded by some of our favorite people it was a time to reflect over the last year and how fortunate we are. It was also during this trip that it dawned on us that Al was never going to stop his name association obsession.
Everyday is an adventure no matter what hand you have been dealt. If you every find yourself needing a little inspiration think of #ALCAN because if he can, you can too!