Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Featuring: Tom’s finished water feature, compliments of a drone!

Remember when (yes, you will want to click that link) I asked you to remember when (and, yeah, click that one too) I insisted that we’re finished with major projects around the house?  And remember when I posted update this update to Tom’s progress on the water feature? 

Well, the water feature that began (in Tom’s head, anyway) as a fairly quick project exploded over the past year into the water feature that belongs in a corporate courtyard!  No, I take it back; this one is OURS, built lovingly and meticulously by my husband – who even has cancer!

(My brother Michael filmed this yesterday with his drone. See what I mean?  Isn’t it incredible? And he even set the video to my favorite music!)

And would you believe that on the day we found out that the cancer that we feared was stage 4 was only stage 1, Tom said to me, “So… I’m playing the fact that I have cancer here, but… I want to buy a lot and build a house.  Everything I’ve already done has just been practice for the BIG ONE – the house that we build.” 

And, having just realized that the man of my life was going to (thank god!) be alive for a long time to come, I replied “OK, honey…”

But first I want to fully appreciate this house for at least another five years, until we retire.  Then I guess we’ll talk. (Since he has cancer…)

And just because I feel like it, here’s a little visual chronology of this latest project:

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Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Breathing (finally)!

The news is just about the best we could have hoped for:

Tom has early prostate cancer, stage 1, Gleason score 6, very likely confined to the prostate.

When I told Elisabeth, I said, “Well, this is the second best result we could have hoped for.” 

“No,” she insisted.  “If you would have told me that they found absolutely NOTHING, I wouldn’t have believed you… not with a PSA of 49 and a palpable mass!  I would have said to go right back to the doctor and tell him to figure this out!”  That’s our nurse daughter for you!

So it seems that this is the best news we could have hoped for and I can’t even begin to express how relived we are.  I think I’m actually a bit more relieved than Tom because I had done enough research to know that a PSA score of 49 and a palpable mass DOES usually indicate advanced cancer that has spread beyond the prostate.

I asked the doctor today what the deal was with Tom’s astronomically high PSA score and he said that he, too, was baffled since even a raging infection doesn’t normally raise it that high.

And get this: it seems that what brought us into the urologist’s office after two trips to the ER probably wasn’t even related to the cancer!  It was just a fortuitous (it turns out) event that forced Tom to get checked out.  Although he had had a physical 18 months ago with a normal PSA, making an appointment for another physical really wasn’t even on our radar so, had we not been forced into the urologist’s office, we would have never found this cancer at this early stage!  Thank goodness, it turns out, for painful and annoying urinary infections that force you to get to a doctor!

Yes, we have some decisions to make (surgery? radiation? other?) and yes, there will be a new normal that includes a cancer diagnosis. But Tom isn’t going anywhere, thank goodness!  I love that man more than I can ever express in words and I plan to grow very old with him – just as I promised him I would 31 years ago!

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IMG_2254laura 039Tom and Carol B

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Sunday, August 03, 2014

Staying busy and productive while we wait

In two days we’ll get the results of Tom’s biopsy.  It’s been an excruciatingly long month and at times I felt like I couldn’t breathe. But since last Tuesday, when Tom had a biopsy on his prostate (he was a trooper, the perfect patient), it’s been easier to wait instead of harder – which has surprised me. 

Quite honestly, I’ll be pretty shocked if either extreme happens – if he doesn’t have cancer at all (a PSA of 49 along with a palpable mass kind of belies that possibility, much as we hope otherwise) or if he has cancer and it’s spread beyond his prostate.  My realistic hope is that it’s contained and therefore curable. 

Fingers crossed and all my energy is focused on good (or at least not awful) news on Tuesday.  I think I now understand prayer and meditation a bit better… and I do think they’re similar.  Both help me breathe out completely, focusing on the positive.  For weeks, I breathed in and in and in, and hardly breathed out, and I exhausted myself.  Once I could focus on breathing in, full of positive thoughts and energy, and then breathing out fully, letting go of negativity, I felt much better.  Maybe this is what prayer feels like too?

While we wait, Tom and I have stayed VERY busy, he in the backyard and me in the front.  First, his amazing creation.  Remember this water feature that Tom’s been working on?  Well, look how far he’s come!  Much of it previous to this weekend…

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(Yes, he inlaid hundreds of black pebbles in the grout in a cool pathway, down the steps and around the patio!)

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Many of the above photos were taken in the past month – since Tom has been sick.  This really doesn’t look like a man with cancer to me!

This weekend, just days after he had 14 needles shot into his prostate (ouch – it hurts prostate-less me to type that!), he did this:

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He demolished a good portion of the wood steps that have been her since we bought the house in ‘95 and replaced then with these HEAVY stepping stones that will take people around the deck out-cropping so they don’t bump their heads.

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Then he created what we’ve been calling the ‘bell tower.” 

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About 30-some years ago, Tom’s parents visited Arcosante, an “experimental town” in Arizona, where they bought three bells made by Paolo Soleri.  Unfortunately, Tom’s parents never put up the bells; instead, they stayed in a box until this evening, when Tom hung them on the “bell tower” next to the water feature.

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Just listen!

While Tom was busy in the back yard, I decided to pretty much get rid of most of the tired, overgrown, dried out plants in the front yard.  Just look at this mess!

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After a full weekend in the dirt, the refreshed front yard looks much happier!

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(That stepping stone was my gift to Tom on our 25th wedding anniversary, six-plus years ago.)

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You know those people who love to garden? I am SO NOT ONE OF THEM! I actually hate gardening (especially weeding)!  But I wanted to spend the weekend both distracted and doing something that nurtured life and health.  Not that I think it will make any real difference on Tuesday, but at least my energy went toward the new, healthy growth and that, if nothing else, felt good.  (And believe me, not a single muscle in my body feels good right now!)

I will blog what we know once we know it and, if appropriate, once we have told close family and friends.  Thanks for your continued good thoughts.  We need them now! 

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