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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Bigger Story: Chapter 1


I wrote this part of the story back in January of 2010.  It's a long story. . . literally!  HAH!  Anyway, we'll start the story with Chapter 1.  I never ended up finishing the whole story I was writing about this back then, and now there's more to tell, so hopefully I can complete the first part and do the whole experience a little more justice.  There are three written chapters previously completed that I'll just copy and paste here from our experience last time around, then I'll have to get back to work writing again, I suppose, in order to complete the whole story.  (I'll post this one Wednesday, August 8th, Chapter 2 will be Friday, August 10th, then I'll probably set it up to post the last of the already written pieces on Monday or Tuesday of next week while we're on vacation.)

Chapter 1: Discovery  (Days 1 – 3)
Nobody who was raised even half-right (and let's face it, anyone who was raised right and has kids knows that nobody is ever raised more than half-right) likes to see a parent cry.
When my mother told me she had breast cancer I found that I felt sort of numb.  I never really think anything like this can ever happen to me.  .  And although it was happening to her, she's my mom, so it was happening to me.  I knew she needed my support.  I knew a hug would have provided her some measure of comfort.  I said the words.  I gave the hugs.  But inside I was numb.  The comfort given was almost like a rote response to a scenario that my brain understood how to handle, like a computer program spitting out the answer for x when y = mom has breast cancer.  I know I cared, I know I was concerned, but the care and concern existed outside of the ‘breast cancer’ announcement.  I cared because she was my mother and I knew she was upset, but the idea of ‘breast cancer’ didn’t seem real to me.  It didn’t seem like a genuine threat.
It's not that I disbelieved her.  It's that I was sure she was blowing things out of proportion.  It's that I knew there was some missing piece of the puzzle; some explanation that would make her bad news seem more trivial. . . less bad. . . it's happened countless times.  I wasn’t a witness to the discovery, and because I wasn’t a witness to it, it seemed less legitimate to me.  If I’d been there to ask the questions with the doctor, perhaps, I could have cleared it all up.  Nothing to worry about.
She had cancer though, there's no denying it.  I talked to her about it.  I even, after examining how I reacted to her news, apologized for not being more supportive.  I told her that it just didn't seem real to me, and that I would do whatever she needed me to do in order to help her.  And that I was glad she was seeing a doctor she felt comfortable with.  She surprised me by saying that she felt I had been very supportive. 
My mother sees the best in me.  I don't think she sees that in everyone, but I'll always be her little boy, and I was almost never the kind of kid that forced her into making the tough love decisions that are the climax of juicy family dramas on television, so I don't think she's ever really revised that view to reflect real world circumstances.  I never did drugs (still haven't).  I didn't drink to excess (at least after college).  I didn't get in trouble with the law (apart from some sarcasm-related issues no doubt brought about by a combination of alcohol, youth, and that aforementioned it-can’t-happen-to-meism).  I got good grades.  I loved my family.
I'm not sure if I should be sad that my mother felt my admitted lack of support was “very supportive” coming from me, or if she just understood me so well that she saw the concern and the support under the layer of numbness that I was feeling.  I think probably both.  Men have been lowering the bar for so long with regard to supporting their women that I’ve been able to reap the benefits by merely skating through life.  But I did care, and I did want to help.  It just seemed not real to me.  It didn't "hit home".
She's since had a partial mastectomy (which is what cancer surgeons call lumpectomies) and radiation.  She's fine.  Honest to god clean bill of health.  So I was sort of right. . . right?  It wasn't that big a deal? 
Every cancer is different though, to borrow a phrase from my autism blogging, just like every person is his own unique snowflake.
My wife Leslie and I had just returned from dinner.  We'd gone out, had a few drinks, and come home.  My parents watched the kids.  They were upstairs sleeping while my folks were watching HGTV.  We chatted about our evening with them, offering quick post meal restaurant reviews and listening to child behavior status reports and my parents left.  We were both exhausted and got ready for bed.
"Jim?" my wife called from the bathroom, as I read in bed.
"Yeah?" I answered back, not taking my eyes from the book.
She walked into the room.  I closed the book on my finger and looked up.  She was. . . fondling herself.  "I feel something."
"You mean like a lump?" I asked.
"Yeah, it's right here.  Can you feel it?”
She showed me, and I felt it.  It was a lump.  I mean, there's no other description.  Nothing on one side. . . something on the other.
I often feel my role around my wife is as foil to her panic, and I replied nonchalantly that she should call her ob/gyn because otherwise she wouldn't sleep the whole weekend.  She doubted that the gyny would be open on Saturday, but I told her that if she called and got one of those "If this is a medical emergency" messages she should process it as "whether you think it's an emergency or not, I sure do, so I'm calling" and unapologetically use it.  It can't be, we reasoned, too serious, she'd just had a mammogram the previous year, at age 39.  She was already scheduled for another in a month.
I put it out of my mind.  I do that.  I compartmentalize troubling things.  It’s a gift.  Things trouble me from time to time.  Sometimes important, important things, and I push them from my mind into a little compartment "to be addressed at a later date", but I don't address them, at least not generally.
The next day she found that indeed her gyny did have office hours and agreed to see her.  We shuttled the kids over to my parents and went to visit her.
Upon examination, the doctor said she thought it felt like a fibrous cyst (ain't no big thang) but that if she was able to aspirate it (ie, draw fluid from it with a syringe) she could prove it without any additional to-do.  We clarified with her that her inability to draw fluid from it would prove nothing; just that it was difficult to draw fluid from. . . and would require a trip to ultrasound in order to fine tune size and location or identify something more serious.
We waited nervously as she attempted, and failed, to draw fluid from the lump.  She gave us a prescription for an ultrasound and told us to have it done wherever was convenient.  We chose the same hospital, just because we figured it would make having her doctor interpret the results more convenient for everyone.
We had to wait until Tuesday of the following week, but I accompanied her to the Imaging department within the hospital.  After a few hours the procedure was complete, and a visibly upset wife greeted me from a room where she informed me that the lump did not appear to be a fibrous cyst, but that they were going to biopsy it and give us results.  They biopsied it.
The Friday before Halloween we had waited long enough, and, at the conclusion of both daughters' school Halloween parades, (since we were both off anyway) called the hospital. 
Cancer.  Invasive.
What does that mean?  We didn't know.  I ran interference with the kids while she talked to the radiologist. 
(From the other room:)
"Am I going to be okay?"
Silence.
Sobbing.
I later learned that the answer to her question had been, "There's a chance."
She composed herself and returned to the room.  She asked me to call my parents and see if they'd watch the kids.  I arranged for the kids to be taken to their house for "a movie" or something and told her to go upstairs and lock herself in the room until I could talk to her.
And she cried.  My children left the house and she cried such a torrent of tears that I thought surely if cancer did not kill her she would die of asphyxiation.  "I don't want to die. . . ", she said through sobs, and it cut my heart from my chest as I imagined my life and the lives of my children without my wife, their mother. 
And it hit home.  Yay!  I do have a heart!  Thanks for letting me know, God, next time just send an email!  I was not numb.  I was devastated.  What the hell were we going to do? 
"They said it's spread," she told me, "and when I asked if I would be okay," she continued haltingly as she tried to catch her breath through crying, "they said, 'there's a chance'." 
I failed to compartmentalize.  My compartments were full.  The need to confront and address were too pressing.  The compartments shut their doors to me and resisted entrance.  And I cried with her, at least as much as I felt comfortable crying, fearing my tears would make her even more afraid.
That was the low point; my wife, dying; my children, motherless; fantasizing about the meeting with Emma, my oldest and giving her ‘the talk’.  “Mommy's not going to be here next Christmas.”  That awful "Christmas Shoes" song was already queuing up to fill the airwaves on 94.5 FM, where Christmas music plays from Halloween through the end of New Year's Day.  From that moment on it became, at least to me, “The Day My Wife Was Dying”.
In the end it was my mother who helped save us from our despair, or at least gave us enough breathing room to make it through the weekend and get to our next doctor's visit, who stemmed the flood of emotion with her experience long enough for us to get actual information.
My wife hadn't relayed the story quite right.  'Invasive' didn't actually mean "The cancer has spread" as she had interpreted it, but was just the name given to the most common kind of breast cancer there is, the kind that starts as a tumor and can move.  It didn’t mean she was going to die.  It's what my mom had.  My mom, who had gotten a partial mastectomy and radiation and was good as new, or at the very least certified pre-owned.  That much got us through the weekend.
It has been ten weeks since my wife learned that she "was dying".  She is anything but dying.  Or perhaps, she's dying, but just as slowly as all human beings die, slowly breaking down inside and out.  That's acceptable.  I can compartmentalize aging.  I can compartmentalize aging easily.  There are no talks to children about buying Christmas shoes to meet Jesus when you still have 50 more years to live.
Really, any news apart from the news that she's dying becomes good news, which really lends you an interesting perspective. 
"Oh the tumor is three times larger than you first thought?"
"Yes."
"But her prognosis is the same?"
"Yes."
"Woohoo!"
That's a gross generalization.  Not everything is 'good' news.  Each new tidbit adds to the time and energy that will be extracted and exacted, and each little factoid will make fighting the cancer that much more of "a big deal".  But it is not a "Death Sentence".  At least in her case, having Breast Cancer just means treating it, then going on with her life.
Some things every woman should know about breast cancer detection that they don't, they just DON'T:  Mammograms aren't particularly effective.  Some breast tissue is too dense, some breasts are too small, sometimes it just doesn't catch tumors.  Please don't misinterpret that to mean that I don't think they're important.  They are.
They told us that my wife's tumor has been in her system for about 5 - 7 years based on the size (extrapolated from statistical data regarding how fast her specific type of cancer grows on average I assume).  Her mammogram never caught it.  Mammography just came under fire in the news, days after we started dealing with all this bullshit, so it seems particularly poignant.  Having a mammogram is justified if it detects cancer early in anyone, at least to the person who’s just found cancer “in the nick of time”.  So the idea of not having a mammogram, while not necessarily supported by my wife's particular situation, sounds stupid to me.  Don't put it off.  Do it.  Maybe it detects nothing.  But perhaps it detects something, and now you're ahead of the curve.  And you want to be ahead of this curve, people.
My wife found her cancer via self examination; a sort of bumbling clumsy self-examination, mind you, that took the form of itch scratching, but examination nonetheless.  Who knows how much sooner she’d have found it if she examined herself more frequently.  Don’t put that off.  Do it.
Another thing, being young doesn't mean you're going to have an easier time with breast cancer.  In fact, it almost means the opposite.  You might handle chemo better (chemo in my wife's case, is a must, where it was not in my mother's case) but the odds it will return are higher just by virtue of the fact that she’s not 70 and therefore has more years of life ahead of her.  It's a statistical issue.  Your odds of a recurrence are, depending on the type of cancer and the treatment you select, about 1% every year.  10 years?  10% chance.  20 years?  20% chance.  You get it, right?  If you're forty, and live to be 80, odds are pretty good it's coming back.
But you know what?  If it does, you just treat it again and it goes away!  Woohoo!  But not if you wait too long, so start looking. 
The hospital handled my wife poorly.  They weren't expecting her to call.  The wrong woman answered the phone, put news bluntly to her that she was not capable of understanding, and then stopped returning her phone calls when she got upset and refused to apologize for how poorly it was handled.  That hospital, the hospital where my two children were born, is dead to me.  If you can’t summon the compassion to deal with a woman who you’re providing a cancer diagnosis to then you picked the wrong field on career day. 
Chapter 2 will be a little sunnier. . . don't you fear.  This journey has only started, and our direction is much clearer than it was on the day that I refer to (in my conversations with her) as "The Day You Were Dying".  It is not "easy”, but it is manageable.  Beatable.  If she dies before I do it will be of something other than cancer.  Probably of the stress I cause her.

Continue to Chapter 2:  Here

75 comments:

  1. Wow. You've done an excellent job of telling this story. I have to wait how many days for chapter 2?? Ugh!

    Mrs Jim: hugs to you. Can't even imagine.

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    1. I used to write it while Leslie was asleep during chemo treatments. They used to make her doze off right away.

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  2. This is the day you made me cry. It is also the day you made me really glad to know you. I am keeping you and Leslie in my thoughts and prayers. No offense, but... She gets just a smidge more thought and prayers than you.

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    1. Woohoo! She always makes out like a bandit in the thoughts and prayers department. . .

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  3. I had something supportive and wise to say but now I can't stop laughing about your mother being certified pre-owned. Heh. Love your humor, I'm sure it's helping to get all of you through this. Big hugs from here.

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  4. Damn, Jim. All the prayers and good wishes are headed to you and your wife. She'll kick cancer in the nuts and keep right on going. She has to.

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    1. I think of cancer as more of a girl. Boys aren't that spiteful.

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  5. Jim, thank you for sharing this incredibly personal and insightful experience. I have a kid who reacts with numb, and he just says "I don't feel anything. I know I should. But I don't." So I know from that, he does, and part of what he feels is guilt. Sometimes the actual feeling's too big. It's like one of these summer storms - you know it's raining, but it's a whiteout and you can't see it.

    And maybe the initial "numb" times peel off a layer so that the next time, you FEEL.

    I FEEL grateful for your words.

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    1. I think that's definitely the case when you're young too. Sometimes I think because men don't share what they ARE feeling, then young men think what they're feeling is 'wrong' because they've never heard it would be "like this". I don't know. . . maybe I'm overthinking it.

      I remember having an epiphany about this sort of thing when Leslie had our oldest. I blogged about it a while back, I think.

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  6. I'll be thinking of your family. You have such a way with words. Thank you for sharing this one.

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  7. Lots of prayers and good wishes from her too xxx

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  8. This is so beautifully written. Such a scarY and frustrating world of medicine to try to navigate. Sending good thoughts to your home!

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  9. Lots of hugs and positive thoughts for Mrs Jim. And I think you're wonderful for including advice for the rest of us. "The Day She was Dying" - God, I can't even imagine. I'm glad things are looking sunnier, and I'm so so sorry you both had to go through that. Also, you're last line made me giggle. Trust you to do that in such a poignant post.

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    1. i have to include the humor. . . otherwise it's not "me"! Thanks for the wishes!

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  10. Oh Gawd, the floor dropping feeling you get when they find something is gut-wrenching. Give Mrs. Jim my love and support. And thanks for your help when I needed it in the midst of what you were/are going through.

    Hugs and love--liz

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    1. You're welcome, Liz, and thanks!

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  11. Jim... you're just... an amazing guy. I mean, you're my snark buddy and I LOVE stumbling into your witty comments here and there throughout the autism parent bloggy world... but on top of being witty, you're an amazing, compassionate human being.

    Your mom SHOULD be proud.

    I love that you and Leslie are such a team and I hope people see me and my hubs that way. I can't believe I'm saying this (cause I KNOW you're going to make me eat it) -- but I want to be more like you.

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    1. thank you. She IS proud. . . maybe a little TOO proud of me. . . but we'll keep that to ourselves. . . unless she reads the comments. Which she probably will. Uh oh.

      I have plenty of faults, believe me. I am trying now though. Harder than I ever have before. Maybe I can make up for lost time.

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  12. What a most excellent, and heart wrenching, beginning to the story. What a great support you are/were to your mom and wife, truly admirable. It almost makes it hard to say snarky things to you now on the Facebook. Hard, but not impossible. Somehow I will muster the courage to go with Jim-snark.

    Can't wait for Chapter 2!

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    1. Not ALWAYS supportive. . . I can't remember if I gloss over being a jackass in Chapter 3. . . hmmm. . . it might come out in Chapter 4 (not yet written).

      I dig the snark. It makes me laugh.

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  13. Surprisingly (or not, depending on how well you know me) the scenarios I had in my head as to what the big fat scary thing you were going to blog about today were worse than this. My mind is a twisty dark place.

    You'd think health care providers would be better at breaking bad news. I don't know if you remember, but when I blogged about my cancer scare a while back, the same thing happened to me. The doctor who called with the news I'd need surgery pretty much had me picking out coffins and pallbearers. She's also dead to me. She's still at my primary care practice and I refuse to see her. She's unfit to deal with patients, as far as I'm concerned.

    This post made me cry. That's not a surprise, everything does. Your sense of humor is a gift, though. It's going to go a long way helping you all get through this.

    This is a very long comment. I didn't mean to write a whole blog post in your comments. I have my own blog to write in. I'm a hog.

    Lots of love to you and your whole family. You know how to reach me if you need anything, right? Anything at all. I mean it. Even if you're in a really bad mood and just need to insult someone for a little while. I'm tough. I can take one for the team.

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    1. Thanks, Ame. I like long comments. We share that, I think.

      Some doctors just don't think it through. . . or maybe they just see it so much they can't summon up the energy to go through the motions because they're numbed to it. I don't know. We'll never find out though. Life's too short of crappy doctors.

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  14. GODDAMMIT JIM! I"m crying over here. its 7am. UNACCEPTABLE.

    also? fuck cancer in it's butthole.

    How lucky is your wife to have such a grounded and supportive partner? (live it up--this may be the only compliment you ever get from me)

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    1. hahaha! YAY!

      Yeah. . . SOMETIMES I'm supportive. . . sometimes I'm lazy. I'm sure my blog glosses over some of the shittier aspects of my partnerhood. . . but you'll never know because Leslie can't figure out how to comment my blogs on her iphone.

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  15. Wow. No wonder you've been busy. I'm sorry to hear the news but glad that the prognosis is not as dire as Leslie initially thought. You guys have my heartfelt support and best wishes. If I was closer I'd offer more actual support than that!

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    1. We're in good shape, Elizabeth, but thank you. You just sort of roll with the punches. We feel guilty for the support we've gotten as it is!

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  16. This is incredibly well-written, which doesn't surprise me in the least. Hugs to your whole family, and looking forward to the next part.

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  17. All of my love to Mrs. Jim. This is an incredible post and it is mind blowing that the hospital treated her as they did. You have an amazing family and I hope that you all have the support and love that you need. Love to all of you.

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    1. Yeah, I'm not excusing it. . . because obviously that hospital is now dead to us, but I wonder if someone else would have handled it more delicately if we'd have waited until they contacted us. Still. . . eff them.

      Thanks, Stimey!

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  18. I don't have anything profound to say, but I feel like I need to say something.

    First and foremost, I'm cheering for good health. Screw cancer. Lots of positive thoughts and vibes coming your way.

    Second, don't lose that sense of humor. A sense of humor and a positive attitude go a long way in times like this.

    I don't have a third thought--just know that I'm rooting for you guys.

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    1. I'll bet you have lots of third thoughts. I'm rooting for you to have third thoughts. Thank you for the other two. I appreciate the first, and I'll definitely keep the second in mind.

      Thanks for saying something. ;)

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  19. I was with my cousin when she got her diagnosis. Numb is exactly how I felt as I sat there and listened to the doctor explain the details. I don't know that it's exclusive to men. Sending best wishes to you and to and Leslie, along with the strength to fight this awful battle.

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    1. yeah, i don't doubt that feeling overwhelmed. . . or that something can't be real isn't gender specific. I just know I always look to Leslie when i want to react "the right way". . . she's like my moral compass.

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  20. You are trying to make us cry, aren't you? (and doing a damn fine job of it, if I must say so)

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  21. Damn it Jim...for someone who was surprised to have a "heart" you sure as hell know how to pull on the heart strings. I had to read this in sections because I'm at my desk at work and if I'm crying and staring at the screen, I'll be found out.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I think you and your entire family are kick ass. Leslie is my thoughts! You guys have all of the blogosphere behind you!

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    1. Woohoo! Thanks, Lisa! No getting fired for reading blogs, okay? There are at LEAST two more of these. . .

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  22. My grandfather just recently died of cancer that we didn't find out about until it was way too late, so I have too many feelings on this whole thing. Many hugs and good energy to you and Leslie.

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    1. Thanks, Mama! Sorry to hear about your grandfather. Mine died of prostate cancer years ago.

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  23. I am so sorry for your wife, you, and your family. My mother had, and has fully recovered from, breast cancer, and the feelings that went with her phone call explaining her diagnosis were awful. I can't imagine my husband also having cancer. All the warmest thoughts and wishes for an easy and quick recovery <3

    Laura

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    1. Thanks, Laura! Congrats to your mother!

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  24. Normally I am a non-commenting lurking asshole, as you know, and my Aspieness doesn't allow for me to write the amazing comments that other people have written (one of my bits that actually feels broken a lot of the time)--but I did want you to know that I read it and it scared me for you and I'm glad it was treatable and I'm going to click off this post now before I cry.

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    1. Good call! Awesome comment. I loved it. So there!

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  25. Jim, you are the best husband ever. Really. I imagine Leslie is equally as awesome and that your awesomeness together multiplies to infinity. How you can share such this story with the perfect amount of tragedy, joy, humor, fear and still GIVE us all the gift of laughter and support you do each day. I just don't know. I'm awestruck. And I'm glad that we are friends. Even if I just met you weeks ago.

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    1. haha. . . Thanks Debby. Don't be awestruck. . . I also suck in equal parts that somehow don't make their way into any of the stories I write. . .

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  26. My thoughts and prayers go out to your wife, you, and your family. I hope that her treatment goes well! And it sounds like you have a great, supportive family, which is critical during crises like these.

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  27. Thanks for sharing. That couldn't have been easy to write, and I can't imagine how difficult it is to live through.

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    1. Stuff like this writes itself actually. Probably made it easier to process being able to write about it.

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  28. I am in awe of your ability to 1) analyse your feelings and own them; 2) write about them in an honest and often, humorous way; 3)make me cry after all these years. I was so touched by your rendition of Leslie's and my story of dealing with breast cancer - I, too, was crying as I read it. You're right that mammograms miss many tumors - mine was found by self-examination, too - only 6 months after my mammogram. So, your advice to pay attention is well taken. Although I do think "the best" about you, I'm not blind - but I am proud of who you've become. - "certified pre-owned."

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    1. BLIND!!!

      Sorry I made my mommy cry, and thanks for being there to help us out when we needed you most.

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  29. Hello...I don't typically comment as my husband has mentioned...I struggle getting it to post, but also I am usually speechless by the support you all give to us as a family but mostly to Jim.
    Jim did ask me if I minded if he shared my story with the blogosphere...and honestly I did not. I had no idea how he was going to approach it or that he would start with his mother's experience.
    Jim does not let many people see the side of him that I get to see and what allowed me to fall in love with him...but he does share that side with al of you. I hope you all realize the impact you had on him as well as the rest of us. Even though I know the story, I am excited to see how he writes it...guarantee I will shed more tears!!

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    1. Probably no more tears until Chapter 3, Love.

      Pfft. . . "allowed" you to fall in love with me. . . I couldn't have STOPPED that process. I mean. . . look at me!

      Thanks for commenting, dollface.

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  30. Many prayers and positive thoughts to Leslie, you and the rest of your family. Cancer is a nasty thing that too many wonderful people have to deal with.

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    1. Thanks, Mary! Yeah, cancer is "not awesome."

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  31. Having dealt with my husband through a recent health scare on his part, I have to say, if it had been me that had the health scare, I would have had to be the strong one for my husband. I envy Leslie for the husband she has in you. Thank God things are looking good for you guys.

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    1. Thanks. She'll get her turn when I get prostate cancer. I'm not even kidding.

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  32. Yipes. This post gives me a whole buncha feelings and not a lot of words, except a) turns out hippie school was pretty good at emphasizing the need for positive sunshine healing magic wellbeing energy, so I'm sending a LOT of that your way; b) I'm sure glad Mrs Jim has you, Jim, because despite your professed flaws you are a darn kind and thoughtful guy, and that kind of love DOES help the healing process, and I'll smack anyone who says otherwise; and c) thank you for taking the time to write this out with all the eloquence and humor that it's got - things sound tough, but then, you guys do too. Keep us posted.

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    1. Yay for hippies! It would be ironic if your defense of the "love heals" argument caused injury to others.

      Thanks, Jericha!

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  33. Jim, This made me tear up. Your honesty about your feelings means so much. Praying that your wife beats this. Thanks for advising all women to take better care and examine their breasts. Something I often take forgranted.

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    1. She did too. It was complete chance that she found anything. The docs said 5-7 years it had been there growing. . . I think of all the breast self exams she didn't do that might have caught it. . . but I also think about doctors examining her too, and how she sort of lapsed on going to the ob/gyn after Lily was born. Life is busy and complicated and. . . you just need to make time for that kinda stuff. And a breast self exam is EASY.

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  34. Jim and Leslie, you are so lucky to have each other. From all I have read, you complement each other, support and love each other in a truly such a perfect, snarky, yet adorable way. They say there is one person who is made for each of us and you two are the perfect example. I love to read your stories, Jim because they are so honest and witty and always make me walk away feeling happy. Yes, even in this, I see the strength of the two of you together.

    I will be saying my share of prayers for Leslie's health for all of you. xoxo

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  35. I somehow managed not to cry until your mom and Leslie's comments. I hate cancer. Waiting anxiously for further installments and sending prayers. -Lisa

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    1. We don't love it either, Lisa! ;). Thanks for the prayers!

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  36. Oh my. My internets have been down (not depressed, just off), so this is the first chance I've had to read this first chapter. Cancer sucks, it really does. All my thoughts are with you, and your incredible family. Now to chapter two...

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  37. Not sure where I have been Jim. I am just now seeing this. Off to read the other chapters.
    I just thought you were at the beach.

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