By Lorry Myers
This April, it has been one year since my son-in-law’s diagnosis of Nasopharynx cancer followed by months of brutal treatment to fight this advanced disease. Most of last year, Tanner was either hooked up in a chemo center, bolted down in a radiation room, gripping the chair arm in a doctor’s office or flat on his back in an emergency room.
He doesn’t remember much of that.
My youngest daughter, Mariah and Tanner were married only four months when his adenoids were removed and a biopsy revealed cancer. This young couple had only three days to get their lives in order before the radiation and chemo started.
After that, nothing was guaranteed.
The cancer invaded Tanner’s face, running from ear to ear, intertwined through his soft pallet, up to the edge of his brain and down to the tip of his spine. As part of his treatment plan, a custom mask was formed and fitted for his face and bolted to a table to hold him still while his face was bombarded with radiation. The treatment burned his airways and left radiation sores in his mouth but there was no stopping now. The radiation was immediately followed with chemo that managed to steal Tanner’s personality and rob him of his beautiful smile. Halfway through this brutal regime, Tanner was down eighty pounds, and depended on daily infusions to keep him going. Finally, the treatment had to be stopped, he couldn’t take any more.
We prayed it was enough.
Since the diagnosis last April, these newlyweds have been faced with life lessons that other couples spend years learning. They set aside their plan to buy a first home in order to focus on what mattered most. While other young couples were furniture shopping or taking warm vacations, or putting children to bed, Mariah was in a small apartment, watching her new husband fight for his life.
That is what mattered most.
Slowly, Tanner came back, growing stronger every day away from treatment. His smile reappeared and his stamina improved and so did the lives of these newlyweds. Instead of letting cancer control them, Mariah and Tanner decided instead, to dismiss it and plan their future like it belongs to them.
They are taking their lives back.
Tanner fought to get back to work and his work has been patient and good to him. It is a rough road from being down and out to being back on your feet and back to work. Still, Tanner never complains, never whines or gripes or makes excuses.
Tanner has no time for that.
For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.