After we left the colonoscopy, until we met with the oncologist, we had a bit of downtime. And since the word cancer was pounding in our heads, like an African drum (that analogy is a bit of humour for the SHA teachers), we looked into it as much as we could. If the GI specialist had said something like, "We found a mass. We are going to get rid of it. It may take a while" we probably would have left the hospital with a relief that Shannon's issue is going to be fixed , but as soon as the word cancer is introduced then your brain really starts to spiral.
The downtime between hospital visits, and new information, seemed to be quite hard on the both of us. With so many unanswered questions came its fair share of fear. The curiosity got the best of me so I went to the one place I knew all my questions would be answered, Google. There are loads of stats online about this form of cancer. The numbers I looked at were not the most encouraging. These numbers I did not want to share until I found some more promising.
All these numbers and worries bounced around in my head relentlessly. The day came where we would finally get some real answers,( not stats from a region in australia from 1996 ), but real answers. When the oncologist said the term "typically incurable" I lost focus, except for a small garbage can to my right about ten feet away. I was sick. I wanted to push past shannon and the nurse and lose my breakfast in that little garbage can. I couldn't think of anything else.
Time past, the doctor kept talking, I'm still not sure what was said, but I eventually got ahold of myself. In the end he told us that with all the factors shannon has working in her favour, he was confident that she will be cured. What a ride. Up and down. From the worst moment of my life to one of the best. The word "Cured" is just as powerful as "cancer".
The things that the doctor said Shannon has going for her are her age, fitness, and the fact that she is in Calgary ( and obviously the entourage or amazing family and friends that are here or here in spirit, but I will get into that later).
She is fit and less than half the age of most people in her situation. Having this cancer at her age is very rare and said to be based solely on her genes. We encourage you all to look into your family history and inform your doctors of it, and also take the symptoms seriously. In the past few months, before the diagnosis, I may have told shannon to "suck it up". She's probably not going to ever let me live that one down. Foot in mouth.
Now the fact that we are in Calgary was said to be a big benefit for a cancer patient. I put this off as a bias opinion from a Calgary based oncologist. I was wrong. Apparently the Tom Baker Cancer Centre (TBCC) is one of the best cancer centres in North America. Thats huge. And I am not sure of the stats behind this but after being there a few times now, I wouldn't want Shannon to be going through this anywhere else.
Everyone we have dealt with has been far more than pleasant and helpful. They make us feel that we are the only people there and that we are the most important people in the world. This centre, which I thought would be a depressing place full of sadness, is not that at all. It is a house of healing. It is a tremendous community environment away from the rest of the world.
With all of this working in her favour she will win this fight. But she is not fighting alone. Everyone was been so unbelievably helpful and selfless in this battle. My co workers and friends who have never even met Shannon have shown us so much support and helped in so many ways. All of our friends and families have been amazing through this and we appreciate it more than we can say. The incoming support has been great for our positivity and morale. We thank you all!
These blogs may get to be a little much for those reading it. We are not sorry. This is our therapy.