Cancer is a stealthy opponent, wreaking damage before you suspect its presence.
The first inkling that Bruce might be facing “something” was last summer. I was headed to the beach with a friend, while he was headed to the doctors for his annual CT scan by his cardiologist, who regularly checks the size of his aortic aneurism.
We’d thought the aneurysm was a big deal when it was first discovered several years ago! It was! But in effect, it was, if not life saving, the issue that got B into cancer treatment sooner than otherwise. For that, we thank the dreaded aneurysm.
When I got to the beach I decided to call B and see how his appointment went.
“The good news,” he tells me, “is that the aneurysm is stable; it hasn’t grown in size. But,” he tells me in what sounds like a nonchalant voice, “the scan shows a spot on my tenth rib.
So I matched his nonchalant tone, “Lots of times the spots turn out to be nothing—just shadows," I tell him.
I stayed at the beach, went swimming, jumped waves, and boogie boarded. I told myself that they ALWAYS find spots that turn out to be nothing but shadows.
B set up an appointment with his primary care doctor and we were left to wait and wonder…and worry. But not worry too much.
But then B notices that the cardiologist’s words on the paper documenting his aneurysm visit say “lesion.” Not “spot.” Lesion. Lesion is scary sounding in a way that spot is not. Lesion is an ugly word.
So the Google search begins: bone lesions, lesions on the rib, spot on the rib, lesion on tenth rib… B is searching, I know. But he says nothing. And I do the same.
None of the possibilities for bone lesions looks good. I wouldn’t know which one of the possible diagnoses might be the lesser of the gruesome evils outlined and explained. It’s pretty clear at this point that all roads lead to cancer. And none of them look good.
And sure enough, tests confirmed multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. Tom Brokaw's cancer ... incurable, but treatable.
Thus, the journey begins. The big C. There's no getting off this train.