Our Holiday Waiting Game

You know that scene near the end of “The Family Man” with Nicholas Cage… where his daughter rings the bell on her bike and he asks her what is she doing? She doesn’t know that the bell is actually a signal that everything that really matters to him now, is about to change. He then goes to his wife and tells her to remember him just the way he is right now. That scene always gives me cold chills. This year it played over and over in my mind because we learned just after Thanksgiving, that my husband’s lymphoma had returned. (Tom is a 16 year non-hodgkins stage 4 cancer survivor!)

Suddenly, every normal, customary, mundane part of our family routine, became, singular and exceptional in my mind. I  wanted to record every moment with a camera, but then again, I  wanted to enjoy every moment without interruption. Chemotherapy, as I all too clearly remember, would surely change his mood, his energy level, his personality. It would rob him of his appetite, his physical strength, and it would rob us of our relationship transforming us from husband and wife to more patient and caregiver.

Every Christmas song or ornament or tradition reminded me of a moment with Tom from our many Christmases together. Every day in this waiting game has also been a lesson that there are no guarantees. It was all I could do to focus on anything else other than what lies ahead for Tom’s treatment and how might I  best prepare our family for impact.

Today, we drove to MD Anderson. The weather was cold and dreary which seemed fitting for a consultation with his doctor to discuss the return of his lymphoma. Tom pointed out where the best place would be to park when I    would be driving him. I  made note of the elevator’s location into the building and then tried to remember the maze of hallways and waiting areas, fountains and more elevators, escalators and the long skybridge leading to where he would be seen.

When we made it into the room and met a doctor with all the paperwork and results, he began to go over their findings and finally into their treatment plan. There would be weekly visits for him to be treated with Rituxin. And then maintenance Rituxin treatments every two years … (I was at the edge of my seat waiting…) I  finally just asked if the chemotherapy would begin after the Rituxin treatment. But he explained, “No. The lymph nodes were enlarged but not to a degree where chemo would be necessary.” And even though his report from the scan mentioned a diagnosis of non-hodgkins lymphoma… we learned it is actually only hodgkins lymphoma we are dealing with which has a very good success rate for remission. (Happy tears began to flow at this point while I searched purse for tissues – Tom smiling at the mess I was.)

So even though we have been through a very long and winding roller coaster waiting game this holiday season that most people weren’t even aware we were on, we are now thrilled to say, Tom will not have to go through chemotherapy. He will not have to take a leave of absence from his job. I will not have to watch the chemo drip into his veins this time. I waited until we were finally in an elevator alone and practically knocked him over grasping his arms squealing, “I-can’t-believe-it-this-is-so-fantastic-I’m-so-happy-for-you-and-I’m-so-happy-for-me-this-is-incredible-can-you-believe-it!!!” So let me officially end this waiting game by saying, may God be praised! To God be the glory! I am so grateful for His mercy!

Tom and me with Italy scene
Me and Tom, Italy, 25th Anniversary


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