About Sharon C.
In 2011, I was diagnosed with Dysautonomia. I was disabled. My career was over. My independence was gone. Our lives changed forever. My husband willingly and immediately became my caretaker, my advocate, my hero.
In 2014, he took me to my doctor’s appointment and unbeknownst to him, I had scheduled one for him too, as his knee had been bothering him for months. Our doctor was an older gentleman with a unique sense of humor, and we will be forever thankful to him. After determining that my husband’s knee pain was osteoarthritis, he instructed my husband to “drop his drawers” and checked his prostate. We were amused, but for just a few moments. Something was wrong. This couldn’t be right. He had had no symptoms.
One week later, my husband had a prostectomy. The reports showed aggressive prostate cancer. He was 55 years old. My soulmate, a father, and grandfather, my caretaker. This can’t be happening. Thankfully, they said that they had gotten all of his cancer. Together we rejoiced! Together we became co-caretakers. For two years of his PSA being tested every 3 months and steadily rising, it was obvious that my husband still had cancer.
In the fall of 2017, we found ourselves 400 miles from home for 7 weeks of radiation at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America near Atlanta. We became part of a compassionate and supportive community. We would join them around the fireplace every evening to listen to one another’s stories. We would discuss our fears, our realities, our families, our hopes for the future. We laughed and cried together. We celebrated each other’s milestones while our warriors fought their battles against this horrific disease. We went back home hopeful that our battle would be over. Knowing that some of the others that we had come to pray for and care about would not be so blessed.
We settled back into our routine quickly enough when we got home. We celebrated with family and friends. We strived to return to our daily lives like everyone else. He took care of me. I took care of him. We took care of each other. Every three months the urologist tested his PSA. Results showed that he still had a PSA and it was still rising. A year later, we were told that it was time to involve a local oncologist.
The oncologist reviewed his records, ran his own tests and announced to us that his prognosis for my husband was that he had five to ten years to live. That’s a long time, yet it’s no time at all. It was devastating to hear. The cancer is in his blood stream. It is microscopic, but it’s there. Now every three months our world is turned upside down by waiting for test results. Test results that still show his PSA going up. We are in a “watchful waiting stage”. We wait. We just wait. We struggle sometimes while trying to live our lives. Family birthdays, holidays, vacations. We go and do. But it’s there, always there. We pray together, we laugh and cry together. We encourage each other. We take care of each other. We take turns picking one another up and dusting one another off. When I falter in my strength, he tells me that he is going prove that doctor wrong and that he was going to die a very old man with cancer not-from cancer! When he falters, I remind him of that declaration.
In 2019, his PSA was over 5 again. He and his oncologist agreed to start another treatment option. A form of hormonal chemo. He took this for over a year and it worked! His PSA was undetectable! REMISSION!!! We celebrated, we praised God for finally answering our prayers!
As he continued on this treatment, it began to take a toll on his quality of life. It was heartbreaking to watch. His muscles had atrophied. He was falling on a regular basis. He needed help to get up from a seated position. He was always exhausted and the treatment caused quite a bit of weight gain. He was miserable. A year ago, he told me that he wanted to stop the treatment. I tried to dissuade him, but ultimately it was his decision to make and I promised over 44 years ago, in sickness and in health. He stopped the treatment. We continued to pray.
Gradually he began to regain his strength, his energy was returning. He felt safe going back to work three days a week, and started focusing on working toward a healthy and more active lifestyle. We enjoyed friends and family again (at least as much as the pandemic would allow). Life was good. We took care of each other.
My husband and his doctor agreed to wait until his PSA reached a certain number. Alarmingly, it only took three months to see that increase. He wanted to wait a little longer. He told me that he wanted to feel good a little longer. It broke my heart to listen as the love of my life, my soulmate, agonized over the decision the he was facing. That we are facing together.
In a few weeks he has his three month appointment. We know the drill. Tests will be run. The wait will be agonizing We will hope upon hope and pray for good news. We will process the results. He will make his treatment decision and I will support him in whatever he decides.
Today we are stronger. Our love is stronger. Our faith is stronger. Together we can win any battle. When we falter, we pick each other up dust each other off. We are co-caretakers. We are blessed.
Ironically, his knee rarely bothers him any more.