Sep 172013

On one of my favorite shows, Parks and Recreation, when Leslie is on trial, she tells her best friend, “I need you to text me every 30 seconds that everything’s going to be OK!”

I could sure use this myself, right about now. But then I would just argue, “You say that, but what if it isn’t!” So….yeah. Never mind.

After nearly two weeks with no post, perhaps you’ve been wondering, why the silence? I’ve been debating about when and if I should write about this, because my first response to crisis is always to withdraw. However, I’ve realized that this is something I cannot endure alone.

Tomorrow afternoon, my husband will have a biopsy to determine whether he has prostate cancer. You may recall that his father had an aggressive form of this cancer, which took his life in 2012. My husband, because of his age and family history, has been getting regular PSA (prostate specific antigen) screenings. This year, his PSA jumped from 2.7 to 4.4, which is worrisome. A man his age should ideally have a PSA of 2.4 or lower, and anything above 4 is considered abnormal. Also, the rate of increase is a problem. An increase of .75 in a year is worrisome, and 2.0 indicates a possibly aggressive cancer, and a higher risk of dying from the disease. My husband’s PSA velocity is 1.18, so it’s surpassed worrisome, into really worrisome.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in America, with skin cancer being the first. 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with it in his lifetime, and while it’s often (though not always) a slow growing cancer, and treatable if caught early, the treatment often carries with it lifelong side effects, particularly with urinary continence and sexual function. Prostate cancer is often referred to as a “couple’s disease,” because of its effects on intimacy in a relationship, and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t worried about that. Of course I am, but whatever happens, we will deal with it. I just want him alive.

Since his urology visit, my husband has been quite calm, while I’ve been a nervous wreck. I’ve always said that there’s nothing I can’t handle with him by my side, and that losing him would be the very worst thing imaginable. The mere thought of him having a life-threatening disease is more than I can handle. Our doctor says it’s not cancer until you have tissue, but all signs seem to point to cancer, so I’ve been trying to prepare myself emotionally for what lies ahead. If the future is anything like the last week has been, I will alternate between sobbing, obsessively researching prostate cancer treatment options (I never even knew what the prostate was before – now I’m practically an expert), babying my husband in the hope that if I love him ferociously enough I can protect him from harm, and hiding from the world in favor of stress-eating cake in my pajamas.

I’m not a fan of melodrama. I’m not one of those people who posts vague, fishing-for-sympathy-type posts on Facebook, and I try not to be the kind of blogger who overshares personal details until readers squirm with embarrassment… but this is the man I love. I have built my life around him and my children, and I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love him madly and always have. I was infatuated with him the first time I saw him, and I knew I was in love with him after our very first phone conversation. I’ve stuck to him like glue for 13 years, because I’m no dummy – I know that men like him are hard to find, and that he’s the one for me. End of story.

He taught me that there are men in the world who stick around, come hell or high water. He taught me that romance isn’t dead, that the crap times can still be funny, and that love can be like in the movies….only better. He is everything to me, and he has to be OK. But if he isn’t, I will be the most supportive wife you ever saw, and together we will kick cancer’s ass. As soon as I stop bawling.

If the man you love is age 40 or older, PLEASE make sure that he gets regular PSA screenings every year. They could save his life. And if you pray, please include us in your prayers right now. Naturally, I want the biopsy to be negative, but what I really need is peace and strength to deal with whatever it might be. I can’t keep walking around with red, swollen eyes and a giant lump in my throat, because sooner or later, the children are going to figure out that my problem is not really “allergies,” as I’ve been telling them.

Cancer sucks. The end.