Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nine Years Ago

Erik and I shortly before his diagnosis.

    This is a repost from a few years ago, but as I've been thinking these same thoughts I thought I'd share it again. I'm so grateful for every day with my husband and family!

    As October passes by my thoughts always turn to remembrance and thanksgiving for the life of my family. Nine years ago at this time I was very, very pregnant with Peregrine. He was, in fact, due around the 20th although he wasn't born until November 1st. On Monday, the 14th of October, Erik visited our family doctor because he was concerned about the hard swelling in one of his testicles. Our doctor mentioned a few possibilities, one of them being cancer*, and referred him to a urologist. I called to schedule an appointment and was told they couldn't see him for nearly two months. I tried another doctor who could get him in sooner; I honestly didn't think it could be cancer or I would have pushed a lot harder! But God knows, and on Wednesday of that week the second doctor's office called and said there was a cancellation and he could see Erik on Thursday.

    Thursday came, and Erik went to his appointment. He came home and told me the urologist was confident it was cancerous and wanted to remove the testicle the next day! To this day I wish I'd have gone to that appointment with him; again, I really didn't think it was anything serious or I would have been there. No one should be alone when they're given that kind of news. We called our friends and family; I don't believe we'd even mentioned it to them prior to this. (This had all happened in a matter of four days!) Our close family came over that evening to pray with us for the surgery, which was scheduled for Friday afternoon.

    I don't remember exactly how I reacted to all of this; it was so shocking, such a short time to absorb such news, but I do remember God's peace and comfort. Even in peace though, there are a lot of questions, and we were certainly asking them! Did this doctor know what he was doing, removing a testicle without doing any biopsies? What if the cancer had spread to the other side, or elsewhere in Erik's body? I was very thankful we'd gotten pregnant right away after getting married; what if we weren't able to have any more children? What if I went into labor tomorrow? What if Erik died, leaving behind a young wife and child? All of these thoughts and more swirled through our minds, but truly, God gave us great peace in the midst of this sudden storm. My Dad mentioned the other day that he wished every couple could have the first two years of their marriage free from any big trials, but it just isn't that way, is it? We'd been married only nine months, and were facing something I'd never even imagined going through!

    Erik went to work the next morning and worked until noon. I guess he figured he'd be off the next few weeks and with a new baby coming should work as much as he could. We drove to the hospital and our parents met us there. Again, we all prayed together, and then Erik was admitted and prepped for surgery. His sense of humor always intact, he'd taken a Sharpie and drawn an arrow pointing to the side where they were going to operate! The hours went by and I sat surrounded by our loving and wonderful families. We visited and prayed and quilted and joked about me going into labor right then- hey, I was already in the hospital!

    Finally someone came out and told us that the surgery had gone well and Erik was in recovery. At last we were able to see him and a while later he was discharged from the hospital. We drove back to our cozy little duplex, thankful that everything had gone well and now praying our baby would stay put for a while so Erik could heal before having care for me and a newborn! We prayed for at least a few days, but God gave us two whole weeks before Peregrine was born! The time was good for both of us; Erik needed to rest and heal, and it was good for me to spend the last weeks of my pregnancy relaxing with my husband and not frantically trying to do a lot of things! Many of his coworkers donated their paid time off to him so he didn't have to take any time off without pay.

    About a week after his surgery we met with his doctor and learned the results of the biopsy; it was indeed cancerous. Blood tests, CT scans, and x-rays revealed that it hadn't spread anywhere else in his body, but it was still recommended that he have localized radiation. This began shortly after Peregrine was born; Erik went five mornings a week for five weeks, then went faithfully to work each day. He experienced nausea similar to that of morning sickness during this time. His long term follow-up entailed biannual CT scans for the first few years, and then every two years for the rest of his life.

    We're incredibly thankful that God allowed us to catch this early and got us into a doctor quickly. If we'd waited several weeks for the first appointment, the cancer could have spread. Erik is now healthy and has been cancer free for five years! We're also thankful that it didn't affect his fertility (obviously!) and that the Lord has surrounded us with such loving and supportive family and friends. Isn't God good to us, even when He allows us to go through such trials?

    *If you have a husband or a son, you should be aware of testicular cancer. It is most common in young men between the ages of 20 and 39, but there have been cases in boys as young as 12. If detected early it's highly treatable and has an excellent survival rate. If not detected, it likes to spread to the lungs and chest area. Men are supposed to do monthly self-exams to check for any swelling, hardness, lumps, or discomfort in the testicles, and should see a doctor right away if anything is out of the ordinary. Making the men in your life aware of this could save their lives!

6 comments:

  1. Wow! I am so glad Erik is fine and still doing well. Thanks for sharing your story and giving God the glory.

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  2. Thanks be to God for Erik's healing and thank you for sharing your story.

    And, congratulations on the five year mark! Whohoooooo!

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  3. Wow Rebeca, what a powerful testimony. I am so thankful that God healed your husband and that the cancer was detected so early! And that the Lord has blessed you with more children :-)

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  4. Thanks for sharing that story with us. What a blessing that the cancer was found so early and that you are able to have more children as well. God truly took care of you both through this- and for his co-workers to give up their time for him is incredible. He must be such a wonderful man!!

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  5. Thanks for sharing your story with me. We are only a bit over a week into our journey and are in the decision process as we decide between monthly monitoring, lymph removal surgery or chemo. It is a tough decision, as is everything with this.

    God bless you and I am so glad to hear your husband is recovered and you have 3 beautiful children!!!
    Carisa

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  6. This brings back so many memories...we hardly had time to react it all proceeded so quickly with the diagnosis, surgery, radiation, the birth of Peregrine. I am deeply touched as I remember Erik's faithfulness, to his family, but also to his job when he would have had the perfect reason not to show up each day. God bless you both as you thread through life's challenges intact, together, under God's loving watchcare.

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