Where to begin?
A year ago (March 31st to be exact) I wrote a story on this blog about a woman beginning to smile again. I had aptly named her journey in a series of blogs; The Face of Leukemia. The Face was my beautiful wife Jacy and leukemia was on the ropes. Jacy was still ill, but she was fighting hard and it showed. Leukemia was losing..
This fight lasted until May 13 when I wrote another story on this blog in reference to “The call”. Leukemia was gone, her body clean, a smile permanently returned to that sweet face. Jacy won, she kicked Leukemia’s ass and did it the only way she knew how, with faith and a smile on her face. She then spent the next several months battling to rebuild a body stripped of strength and muscle tone. She spent many nights frustrated, angry at an inability to focus, remember, and keep simple tasks straight. Jacy remained determined to finish her teaching credential and did so with the usual grit and tenacity that I fell in love with so many years ago. It was not easy by any means and a few times we butted heads over what was best for her during this time of recovery.
August came and a teacher regained her classroom, starting a new school year off surrounded by children she loves, her colleagues and a purpose. Our family regained their daughter, mother and wife. It hasn’t been easy, nights worrying if “it” will come back. The slightest hint of a sniffle or sore throat brings mind gripping fear. Her brain turning, churning wondering if she was just tired from a long day or has “it” returned? Is she really angry with me and the kids or is fear crippling her emotions again? Is that sweat or fever induced paranoia? Five years clean we just need to make it five years clean and then ten! Yes if there is any human being on this earth that can not only meet but exceed these expectations it is my wife! The former face of Leukemia. The face of victory, the face of WINNING! The face I love….
Enter Thursday March 12.
Earlier in the week prior to a simple operation to help with her ongoing iron deficiency, it was suggested she report for a standard blood draw. This would give doctors a good baseline prior to the operation. Within a day, results were in and the operation was off. She was to report on Monday for a bone marrow draw, further testing to confirm or deny what the numbers were showing. Stay calm I said, don’t worry I said, it will all be fine, you will be fine…..
Thursday March 19
Like a bad dream it rolled in disguised as a Honda Odyssey; at the wheel one spouse returning from work. Once again just as before while working horses I was about to receive the news. She walked slowly towards me as I saddled a horse for one of the boys, touched my arm gently upon reaching me and asked; would you care to go for a walk? The blood drained from my body as I knew. Like knowing a relationship is over, or the police aren’t at your house, knocking on your door selling tickets to the annual ball. I knew! I knew and asked her to just spit it out anyways. The look in her face, the light dullness of her eyes, and the sound of her voice slightly cracking. She let it all out. “It” was back…
Leukemia had reared its ugly head once again. It wanted a fight and brought a few friends with it this time. According to Jacy’s doctor some of the cells looked different, so more tests were in order. She had until Monday. Four days to get herself and her life in order. Four days is an eternity and not enough time all rolled into one. She told me two days later it felt like an imposed prison sentence and these were her last few minutes on the outside.
We talked for a while about moving forward, and staying positive. Deciding when to inform our immeidiate family and how to tell our children. We hugged a lot and agreed that keeping life as normal as possible for the children could only benefit them during this time. Not that anything was handled improperly last go around, but we now have experience with what to expect during the many transitional phases of this journey. The eldest children were notified first with Cody agreeing to come home for the summer. The little ones were told the next day as to get them through the school week without incident. Everybody did their best to put on a brave face, but really no child should have to do such a thing when it comes to their mom.
Jacy and I set about trying to schedule things out over the next few months. This fight, this new fight was going to be harder, viler while wreaking greater havoc on her body over the last time around. It wasn’t just going to be chemo therapy either, a bone marrow transplant, talk about stem cells and living at Stanford for up to four months. This was for real, no easy cake walk for any of us, but especially for my wife.
Parents stepped in, friends have stepped in, and we are continually surrounded by some of the most gracious people I have ever met. I don’t know how to handle it at times, my manners not so contained. I have never been good at asking for help, my demeanor has always been one to help, one to fix, one to be there for someone else. Accepting or asking for help then standing aside has never ever been a strong point for me.
But I am thankful, so very thankful and with only being one week in, I am already exhausted. Not that I have anything to complain about, because I don’t. We have up to 5 more months to go, a routine will emerge and I will settle down, letting go of certain responsibilities, solely focusing all my efforts on our children and my wife. I don’t know how I will ever repay the love and support shown my family, but I will find a way and do my best to carry forward this giving spirit. Thank you all so much, my chest hurts thinking about the magnitude of it all…
Jacy started Chemotherapy on Tuesday the 24th. As before with a smile on her face, surrounded by wonderful nurses at Kaiser who remembered her and her endearing spirit from less than one year ago. One nurse cried when she found out Jacy was coming back. She felt for sure it was over the first go around, and upon seeing the name was overcome with emotion. She is one of our favorite’s nurses and there are many. The hospital and staff are simply amazing. Being in the business I am it is hard to leave my loved one in someone else’s hands, but here there is no doubt. Her light shines brightly upon all who come in contact with her, doctors and other nurses stop by just too say hi, check in on her and have a little conversation with the patient who smiles so brightly. My wife is truly one of a kind, it is humbling what she brings or gives to everyone she touches.
The sad reality of it all; Jacy sits in a room with no where to go, listening to machines all day long, she cant roam to far, cant be outside for too long, is tied to a rolling I.V. cart with up to five different medications pushing through her veins at one time, and with it each day brings a new level of sickness. She has Wi-Fi, Trivia Crack, Words with Friends, books, family and friends on call. But all she thinks about is her life at home, feeling no control over its future, what’s happing in her absence, missing out on interactions with her children and wondering when she will regain control of that life.
It is breaking my heart.