The Monster is Back and I’ve Got No Blanket

I’m going to do something different. Typically my blog is all about the humor. Or at least what I hope others will find humorous. This idea/experiment might occasionally include humor but it’s going to be serious. I usually publish my posts to Facebook and a few other social media outlets. This once a week post will only be here on WordPress.

A little over twelve years ago, the morning after we had attended a Halloween party, she found it. A lump in her breast. Testing over the next two weeks confirmed that it was breast cancer. A surgery was scheduled. The recommendation was for one breast and a few lymph nodes to be removed. Being a medical professional herself, she opted for the most aggressive course of treatment, a double mastectomy, to hopefully decrease the risk of a return in the future.

That’s the thing with cancer. You have to be as aggressive as it is if you want to survive. If the surgery and subsequent chemotherapy and medication regimen don’t obliterate every single cancer cell it will come back. It only needs one single cell. One little fucker that starts replicating again. That’s why chemotherapy lays waste to the human body. It kills most of the fast replicating cells in the body without discerning between cancer cells and those that we need, such as the ones responsible for our hair. At the time, the treatment seemed as bad as the disease.

At the time I didn’t know what to expect, so I went into everything optimistically, assuming that because I’m Phil it would all be all right. I had never lived with someone with cancer. It was the worst year of my life. I wouldn’t wish either cancer or caring for someone with cancer on my worst enemy.

But she survived and twelve years later we own a shitload of pink ribbon clothing, decorations, and stickers on our cars. My wife even has a pink ribbon tattoo on the back of her shoulders that says “Hope”

Today is my birthday. I’ll probably spend the day responding to hundreds of well wishes on Facebook while I sit waiting as my wife has a bone scan and MRI to determine the extent of the cancer that has returned. It’s like when they make a sequel to a great movie from a long time ago and you’re like, ‘Where the fuck did that come from? I had forgotten all about it.”  Remember that Baz Luhrman song Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen) ? Remember the lyric “The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.” That’s pretty much how it happened just two weeks ago when she found a lump in her chest. Twelve years out I had thought we were OK.

So possibly for my own sanity, I’m going to write about it once a week. If you just want my funny posts, feel free to skip these and read the others. I know I would. I try not to acknowledge things that scare the hell out of me, like I did as a kid when I’d hide under my blanket because I believed that if I did, the monster in my room couldn’t see me. The monster is back and I’ve got no blanket. If you’re one of my real life friends who came upon this, please don’t share on Facebook or anywhere else.

54 responses to “The Monster is Back and I’ve Got No Blanket

  1. There are no words to ease the pain you are dealing with right now so I won’t even try. Just know that there are strangers out in the world praying and worrying with you. I will follow these posts hoping for the magical words: no cancer.

    • Thank you. I’m still debating if I should delete this and not write about it. On the one hand, capturing my raw, painful emotions and experiences sounds interesting but on the other hand, who wants to read a blog that’s a downer, especially considering that it’s such a departure from my usual content?

  2. No, you are wrong. Writing about it may help you deal with it and your words may help others to understand. It’s okay to not be happy occasionally. Having said that, it is your decision.

  3. Oh Phil – like quiall, I don’t have any words to offer you that could possibly make a difference to how you feel right now.
    I can however be here for you to listen and support you while you unload, rant, and confront this monster. My thoughts are with you and your wife.

  4. If the interwebs and social media are good for anything, they are good for sharing our grief, our happiness, our sadness and whatever else is going on in our lives. As you know, writing your feelings down can be therapeutic and you have a ready made audience to share in your worries and concerns with. As a poster above said, know there are strangers who are thinking of you and Mrs. Phil at this difficult time.

  5. Oh gosh Phil. Saying how sorry I am just doesn’t seem like enough. Cancer sucks.

  6. Fuck. I’m so sorry for you both, that really sucks.
    Only you can decide if this is the place to talk about it. If you find you’re not comfortable you can always go back and delete it anytime, but hopefully you may just find some of the support you’re going to need here.
    Stay strong and take it all one day at a time my friend.

  7. Having just finished treatment for cancer and having been declared in remission. (notice I’m not confident enough to say cured) I can relate to the unfair return of the damned disease after twelve years. I wish I could throw a blanket your way and have this monster disappear. I think the good news is research and treatment have come a long way in twelve years. I will follow your posts with the idea of at least being supportive as the challenge goes forward. Having said all that prayers too.

  8. We don’t know each other very well yet, Phil. But I too, want to express my well wishes for the both of you. As far as whether or not to chronicle this struggle here on your blog? It might get easier as you write. You might connect with someone else facing a similar issue. And although we are all virtual strangers, it doesn’t make our care and concern any less sincere. Sending positive thoughts your way.

  9. How terrifying for you both, Phil. I’m so sorry. I am also hopeful, being the nerd I am, and knowing that the statistics are highly in your favor.

    I am not someone who prays to God to heal–wouldn’t he heal all those babies and children who suffer and are prayed for so very hard? I more believe in God as if He (or She, or It–for heaven’s sake, people, leave it alone, already!) is a giant battery, there for us to draw upon when we need power. I will pray for you and your wife to get some added power to deal with what you are going through. Perhaps my tiny prayers can help a tiny bit.
    <3 <3 <3

  10. Cancer is like the dog that keeps biting. Sending you both thoughts of healing and solace. I know how hard it is to face . Because mine was kidney cancer, I could not take chemo. The chances of it returning in another form, they told me, was 50-50, so I’m always aware of any changes in my body. I deeply sympathize with this recent flare-up. Blessings.

  11. I am so deeply saddened to hear this. Your post should not be taken down! As the spouse and care giver, you need to be able to express your emotions in a way that feels safe for you — and we as your friends will help support you!

  12. I am so sorry about this! Kia Kaha.

  13. I have posts that I do not push as well. Some things are really only intended for my blogging buddies. Sometimes this is the perfect place.
    I’m so sorry to read this bad news today. And on your birthday. I’ve always been the sick one, and my husband has always been quiet about it, so I can only imagine your worries. I will add you and your wife to my list of prayers. My best wishes for you.

  14. Reblogged this on Suzie Speaks and commented:
    Phil was one of the very first bloggers I found on WordPress, and over the years he’s been a legend… Today, he needs our support…

  15. Like everyone else, I’m at a loss for words that can offer any form of advice… Just know that I’m here if you need me. Thinking of you and your family xx

  16. I’ve only recently come across your blog, Phil. I am so sorry to hear your news, and at this time of year, and on your birthday, that just seems to rub it in even deeper.
    My partner had cancer, I’ve been the carer and know the need of a blanket. I also worked within a hospice charity. You can only write what you feel you should, but don’t underestimate the comfort you can find, and bring to others who feel isolated and as if there is no-one who understands, by sharing the journey.
    My very best wishes to you and your wife.

  17. Phil, I’m so sorry. I remember first following you over a year ago. So much has happened in my year long hiatus, I get back and I see a lot, including this. I can’t fathom any words to make it better, and I don’t have a blanket for you. I will pray for you and yours, and I will be reading, no matter what you write. Your funny stuff, is hilarious. However, you need to do this for you. We will be here for you, regardless of your decision. I hope it’s not bad at all, and it is caught early.

    Warm regards, and Merry Christmas,

  18. I can just say that I wish the best. Prayers your way. Do not delete this post – the honesty, emotions and words are straight from the heart and I am looking forward to read ‘all is well’

  19. All my thoughts and prayers are with your wife and your family. Don’t hide under a blanket. Visit with us as often as you need. Life has a funny way of reminding us of reality. I’m praying for the best for Mrs. Phil….and you

  20. Phil I’m so sorry to read this and I’ll send positive energy. She will win!

  21. Phil I’m going to wish you a Hopeful Birthday. I’ve no blanket for you but am sending you a hug and warmest wishes to you both. I personally think you should post as and when you feel the need, men tend to hold it all in which doesn’t do you any good. As you’ve seen from the above comments already, we are all here and rooting for you both x

  22. Phil, Write about it. We’ve been dealing with this with family and friends this year; its kept me from blogging and this is what I find on my first day back!!! 😉
    If this is your outlet then blog, blog like mad; and be mad. If you don’t get those feelings out they will become your own personal cancer. I’ll wish that you find hope and love because without them there is only despair.
    Better your anger is here than those closest to you.
    Take each day as it comes.

  23. Phil, I don’t often comment on your post, but I always love them.

    Please do write of your cancer journey with your wife.
    I was diagnosed with cancer this year, and did the whole surgery and chemo thing. Seriously blew my whole year and now I have no hair to boot! I now realize I am looking at my body differently, wondering if every little issue I have is a sign of cancer somewhere in my body. In working with groups it appears this is something cancer survivors do for the rest of their life. Maybe as the years progress, ticking of each one as a battle won, I won’t be so sensitive and anxious about each symptom.

    Since I have read your blog and books, I feel I know something of you, and would appreciate reading your thoughts on the experiences you are having during this additional life cramp.

    Wishing you and your wife strength and comfort.
    Love & Peace

    • Rene, thank you so much for your kind words and sharing. If I write more I will try to do it justice. It’s tough being the spouse but I’m sure not half as tough as being the patient. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  24. I am thinking of you both and wishing I had a magic wand to make this horrific disease disappear. xxx

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