Round Two: Treatment Eighteen

ImageI’d like to think we’ve created a new norm. Prior to diagnosis, we were more than comfortable with life and, as mentioned in our previous post, it was sad to realize those dreams and plans were altered significantly. But, true to our Smith style, we took a day (or seven) to be sad and then declared that we need to move on and create a new normal. Though our aspirations will continuously shift through various phases of our lives, cancer centers and Dr. Birhiray will always be constants. But we are learning, we are pushing, and we are believing that we are going to have an amazing life together beyond this.

 I am so happy to be able to share how well treatments are going for Andrew. His body is responding excellently to the chemotherapy, and our doctor couldn’t be more pleased with how “remarkably well” he is doing. But his body’s positive response certainly comes with ugly days. It is a double-edged sword. As the chemotherapy kills all of the bad, it also takes with it the good leaving Andrew with very little to get through the day with. We spend at least four days in the hospital each week and every evening resting in preparation for the next day full of nurses and needles. I won’t lie; it hasn’t been pretty & Andrew is taking a beating. But you know what? Things could be worse & we are incredibly, incredibly blessed.

 Last Thursday, Andrew and I were going through the motions of our routine- blood work, wait for two hours for results, office visits, chemotherapy for five hours. I cringe to admit my fatigue that day and Andrew’s concern for me and my lack of sleep and restlessness. In short, it wasn’t our best day. Feeling worn down, we settled into the infusion room with a handful of other chemo patients and began our many glances at the clock to see how much longer this day was going to go on. I couldn’t help but notice that we were sitting across from an older lady sitting through chemotherapy treatment by herself which, naturally, broke my heart. As the afternoon hours went by, we learned that not only was she battling cancer herself, her husband has Parkinson’s disease and the little family she had left lived far away. She went on to discuss difficulty in her day-to-day life with general functions, but not just her own, her husband’s as well.  She was carrying this burden alone. After asking if there was anything we could do but learning that she lived too far away for us to help and assist her, she left. I cried. Things could be worse. We are so blessed.

It has been weighing heavy on my heart to challenge readers to take a moment and recognize blessings. We are living and breathing, given another day on this earth! So many are struggling to make it through the days that we so casually wish to pass quickly. Our days and lives are temporary and fleeting, but we are so blessed to have them in the first place.

“The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for.” 

5 thoughts on “Round Two: Treatment Eighteen

  1. After reading your post, everything you guys are feeling is so normal. My Mother was diagnosed with Acute Myleoid Leukemia on 6/18/99 and battled for 2 years before her body gave out. She had a wicked subtype. She was 55 when diagnosed. Ironically she had the same doctor that Coach Pagano had. The people we met along the way really inspired us and we did feel too that someone else is always worse off than we were. I wrote a book about my experiences called Leukemia Lessons. A lot of it applies to anyone with a family member who has cancer. Eat right, rest, pray, etc.
    Keep the Faith!!!

    1. SAM AND ANDREW NEVER STOP PRAYING. NEVER GIVE UP. YOU ARE STRONG AND YOUNG. I FEEL GOD WILL SEE YOU THRU. YOUR BUTLER FAMILY AS WELL AS EVERYONE YOU KNOW IS PRAYING FOR THE BEST IN YOUR LIFE. STAY POSITIVE AND REMEMBER AS YOU TOLD IN YOUR UPDATE. THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE ELSE THT HAS A BIGGER BURDEN. LOVE YOU BOTH. OUR HEARTS ARE WITH YOU. NONE OF KNOWS WHAT WE WILL ENDURE IN THIS LIFE. FOR NOW AS YOU SAY ONE DAY AT A TIME. PRAYERS, FAITH!!!

  2. Think of you two and pray for you often. Andrew, you are still my only stats student whose height is more than 3 standard deviations above the mean. That makes you one of a kind! Love you!

  3. In the face of cancer it often feels impossible to imagine a life without it. There will always be scans, doctor visits, and bloodwork. It becomes routine and often feels normal. But, as I’m almost 7 years past diagnosis, I encourage you to still dream. Although my dreams are different than my 16 year old newly diagnosed self, I realize that my dreams constantly evolve. As I set to leave for Korea in a few months, I visited the doctor for a check up & to make sure I could be managed there (afterall once a cancer patient always a cancer patient…unfortunately). It was in that office that I realized I let cancer scare me into being so little for too long. Don’t be afraid of dreaming…don’t give cancer that authority, even if your dreams are to travel again and even if they don’t happen for 10 more years. Although this may be your new norm, there’s still potential for so much more than 6 letters (I didn’t realize that for the longest time but it’s my favorite piece of wisdom to pass on).

  4. Would you please provide a mailing address where I can reach both of you?
    I’d like to send you some information that I think will be most beneficial.

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