When Shawna Pierno posted “F* Cancer” as her Facebook status I knew it was because her Mom, Pat had miraculously defied the Doctors and beat the Cancer she wasn’t supposed to survive. Thank you God! I cried with joy when I read the post. I cried for Pat, and cried for Shawna, Bob, Amelia, and for everyone else that loves her. It was a day to celebrate for their entire family.
Slowly, inch by inch, Cancer has crept closer and closer to my life. Not long after Shawna’s famous Facebook post, on a cold and dreary afternoon in January 2010, I learned about another person who was going to have a “Throwdown” with Cancer. A beloved husband, cherished father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, son-in-law, brother-in-law, co-worker and friend to many. In the past I’d thought, the evil conniving Cancer had gotten too close. Stage 4 Throat Cancer gave David Callejas the scare of his life during a routine tonsillectomy. Then, Skin Cancer dared to nestle in next to my Daddy’s only good eye, downright cruel and unforgivable after he’d already triumphed over a heart transplant.
“All these tests look good” said the Nurse Practitioner as she examined my husband Ken. We were starting to breathe a little easier and relax a bit. This wasn’t anything to worry about. It was all smiles and laughter. Until the Doctor came in and brought the news that Ken has Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, also known as CLL. “I … ha…have… Leukemia?”...stammered my stunned, crushed, dearly beloved husband. There was NO “I’m sorry,” there were no hugs, there was not any tenderness from Hematologist/Oncologist with Zero Feelings. Just a smile and a nod. I guess this is "all in a days work' for her.
Those first few days we barely spoke. We are both the same when it comes to the scary & sad things in life. It took a few weeks to come back to life and figure out our plan of attack. I immediately thought of Shawna; "F*$# Cancer is right!
We are a team, Ken and I, married now for 25 years. This is quite a mountain WE are going to climb together, a fight we will be fighting together - every step of the way. Thank you again DAVID & KAY MORRISON, for once again being role models for me in this arena!
We needed some private time to plan our course, and find the best treatment facility before sharing it with family and friends. We were blessed and so fortunate to find UCSD Moore’s Cancer Center and become a patient of Dr. Kipps, one of a handful of highly regarded national specialists in the CLL field today. And God Bless him, he has FEELINGS, and he HUGS Ken every time we go in for an office visit. We are in the hands of someone who really cares about PEOPLE. It’s a scary and uncertain time for us, and those hugs say a lot and mean the world. Thank you Dr. Kipps.
We’ve also been looking at our life to see what changes we can make to optimize Ken’s health and reduce his stress levels. It’s a blessing, especially now (!!) that I am a stay at home wife and mother and have supportive, self-sufficient adult-aged children so I can focus 100% of my attention on helping my husband stay healthy. If it means staying home rather than attending events so we get more rest, or so Ken doesn’t have to do more stressful driving in traffic, that’s what we’ll do. I’m a Trainer now. I have to keep my top athlete in fighting form. I have to be selfish for both of us and say NO to a lot right now.
Ken is already in the Ring; gloves on, bravely fighting back. He’s throwing punches and ready, like many of you who have already had to go in, so brave, before he has. My Auntie Ferris Bevins, David Callejas, The Rev. Gwen Ehrenborg, Connie Herrick, Keith Myers, David Morrison, Shawna’s mom Pat, and....Pat, Brian & Emily Saia, and anyone else who is a member of "The Fight Club." There is a dear friend who fights anonymously and wishes not to be listed; I do not forget you.
There are so many I know I have not listed, or have no knowledge of your fight. So, I have a favor to ask. Please use the comment section to tell me about how Cancer has touched your life, or a loved ones life. Tell me how you or your loved one got into the Ring and how you or they fought. Tell me so Ken and I can rejoice with you and be uplifted by your stories of strength, courage, resilience and perseverance.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13