Sunday marked Adam’s 2-year “cancerversary”. We shared a lot of tears, memories, and hugs throughout the day. We also shared gutter cleaning, garden-winterizing, and grocery shopping. Yesterday marked the day that Adam started chemo 2 years ago. We shared crabbiness, bad memories, and a retrospection-gag-reflux. We also shared long workdays, errands, and couple-calendar synchronizing.
These two dates are a pretty realistic glimpse into most days.
Our life probably looks pretty “typical” to the outside world. Most mornings, Adam rises early to go to the gym and later, we both head out to work. Allison heads to the gym after work while Adam works on grad school. Then, we eat a late dinner, catch up on our days, watch a sitcom, and turn in for the night. Pepper in time with friends, playtime with our adorable kitten, Bluegrass (pictured above with his best bud), and perhaps a wild night of paying bills and you have our life. It looks really normal.
And after the year and a half we had in the midst of intense cancer treatment, we’re ok with normal.
But honestly, our life isn’t that normal. Life after the kind of cancer and surgery scares that Adam had might never be totally normal. We think differently about life, God, community, and the world. Our external life may look pretty similar to life before cancer but our internal life has been redesigned.
Perhaps that’s because we aren’t actually “after” cancer. But we’re not actually “in” cancer either.
So what is the medical update on Adam, you ask? Adam still has a few small tumors on one of his lungs that his oncologist is monitoring regularly. Initially, Adam had scans and bloodwork every 3 months; he just graduated to monitoring every 6 months (which is a relief and an anxiety all at once). His bloodwork and stable tumor sizes indicate that the tumors are benign. His oncologist regularly reminds us that he has “shapeshifter” tumors that could change properties and must be monitored.
‘As if’ we’d ever stop getting these things checked out after all Adam has been through.
The doctors remain very hopeful that the cancer may never come back. They also remain very realistic that it might. We don’t get to know this stuff, so we get to watch indefinitely and vigilantly. Adam will have oncology appointments regularly (probably forever). Adam also has to have regular vascular medical attention because of the synthetic aorta (pictured) that he had put in during his death surgery. He just had his annual appointment with his vascular surgeon and the aorta is circulating like a champ. Adam is still getting used to his post-surgeries body. He’s only got one functioning kidney, his shoulder/rib scar is still swollen, his incision sites remain uncomfortable, he is adjusting his expectations for his body's new definition of agility, speed, and strength.
Adam will have lots of medical appointments forever (so we take feet pictures in waiting rooms). The good news is that every medical appointment, as of late, is really encouraging. The doctors say things like, “Wow, you look amazing” and “We’ll never forget your surgeries – they were crazy” and “Hey, Bionic Man, it’s so good to see you” and “Wow, you look real handsome as a non-cancer patient.”
And that’s all really, really, really reassuring.
(Seriously, we have so much love and respect for doctors and nurses. Their brains, kindness, and sarcasm are priceless to us.)
We’re so glad that the doctors are really positive. We don’t take that for granted.
We’re really glad Adam is alive. We don’t take that for granted.
But Adam isn’t skydiving or rocky mountain climbing or bull-riding in an “I cheated death” post-cancer reaction. He’s taking in life slowly, getting used to normal life again, and processing healing. He’s figuring out what it means to accept cancer as part of his story without having it define his story. He’s continuing to reflect on lamenting as central to faith.
We’re both learning how to live with non-closure on cancer. Adam is a storyteller who has stopped his narrative just before the final chapters of his cancer account. Allison is a perfectionist living with an inability to check “Adam is cancer-free” off of her to-do list. And we’re both figuring out what it means to move on from cancer but also to take the transformation that cancer brought with us in the move.
So as we metaphorically “pack up” from the cancer journey and live in the in-between, we plan to move our stories and processing 100% from this site onto our personal blogs. Not that we write a lot these days anyway. But maybe we will start again, who knows? If we revive this site, it won’t be good – so let’s all hope this account stays silent.
Thank you for journeying with us. Thank you for continuing to wonder “How’s Adam doing?” Keep wondering, keep asking. He’s got good things to share in his processing. We love you, we’re grateful to journey with friends through this life.