Being In the Moment

Being In the Moment

My grandfather was born with a hole in his heart.

He lived a long, beautiful life never knowing about the condition until he progressed in age and had scans. My grandfather had 11 children and was preceded in death by three of them, enough to elicit heart issues for any healthy adult.

But no one ever knew.

With my grandfather at Wedding One to Brian December 3, 1993

Before Brian began treatment, the doctor told us to not expect the cancer to be eradicated, that Brian would probably need maintenance to keep the mass, now just a few millimeters in size, at bay.

When this started the mass was, well, massive. Most lung cancer is considered significant if it’s three millimeters and Brian’s lung mass was over eight inches. And yes you read that right – inches.

I don’t think it would have been that long ago that a tumor of this size would have been a swift death sentence. Now that we are eight months past the aggressive treatment he underwent, I am grateful to have Brian so vibrant again.

While his radiologist advised that Brian could definitely go into remission, he also said Brian would probably never be cancer-free. That my husband would probably have manageable flair ups over the course of his life.

Nothing a little treatment can’t handle.

But I actually misunderstood the remaining mass to potentially be scar tissue for awhile. Perhaps I heard what I wanted to hear. That the cancer was probably gone and we were in the clear to live the life we choose once the pandemic is over (and when is that ever going to happen).

So full of life and vitality compared to a year ago, before we even knew it was cancer, I sometimes forget Brian is still recovering.

Until I’m reminded by his random need to just lay in bed. Until has asks me to get his dry mouth medication or it’s immunotherapy day. Then it all comes rushing back. Then the prick of the finger occurs. It’s surprising and doesn’t bleed much, but those moments puncture the skin.

I have a nagging anxiety sometimes, waiting for Brian’s silent companion to get chatty again. I was especially anxious before this last scan. I felt like some of the caution flags were being waved by Brian’s body.

When results came back the same as last scan, which is great, I realized that his cancer really is going to be like a chronic illness. Some days will be unexpectedly off but that doesn’t mean anything is wrong. This is just how disease presents sometimes. So I need to loosen up.

Because who knows, my husband may, after immunotherapy is over, not even have visible symptoms. Just like my grandfather, he very well could lead a healthy life.

No one knows what the future holds, so I have to continue to live life every day. Cancer has forced the planner in me to begrudgingly live in the moment. This is a good thing, but it’s hard.

Brian Whaley is the love of my life. The one I waited decades for and didn’t know it. Squandering my time on worrying is ridiculous. And I want to inhale every moment like the air I breathe, fully nourishing my body with the crucial function of living in the moment.

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