By Lorry Myers
No one gets much sleep the night before a test like this. It’s what we think about but never talk about, almost afraid to say our worries out loud. Two years ago in December, my daughter, Mariah, married the man of her dreams, neither of them knowing that in a few short months, Tanner would be diagnosed with cancer. This time last year, Tanner was struggling with the aftermath of aggressive radiation and chemo, fighting to find his way back. Now, here we are this December, and it is time for my son-in-law to have another critical medical test.
Cancer just won’t let him be.
After the scan, the expected call from the doctor did not come and that brought along heightened worry. Tanner’s cancer doctor always calls the same day as the scan because he understands the agony of waiting. Every scan before, the doctor called that very day to give the results; he called each and every time Tanner has been strapped down and pulled in a scanning machine.
Every time but this one.
That day, 255 people had cancer screenings along with Tanner. People of all ages, people with all different kinds of cancer, people with families and friends and fears just like us. I tried to comfort Mariah when she told me for the first time, their doctor had not called with the results. It was a busy day, I told her, a busy time of the year. People take vacations and labs back up so our good news would surely come tomorrow.
Please, oh please, let good news come tomorrow. Tanner’s cancer diagnosis detoured this newly married couple down a path they had not prepared for. They put their plans for home ownership aside and decided instead to focus on what really matters, and that, was fighting for Tanner’s life. We watched as Tanner lost weight and gained black circles under his eyes. We saw his hair fall out and his face turn gray and his eyes grow unfocused. Cancer can do that to you.
But now, another year has gone by and Tanner’s hair has grown back and once again, a light is shining in his eyes. His color is good and his appetite is strong and all of his recent scans have showed no new growth. Still, the tests continue to be scheduled and the world continues to turn but this young couple is so focused on healing, that it doesn’t seem to bother them that they drive cars with lots of miles and will probably drive them for many more. The house they live in, they do not own, but they love it like they do. While others complain about politics and how unfair life is, these two silently battle insurance claims and never-ending pharmacy refills and the sickening fear that cancer will not leave them alone.
That kind of fear will never go away.
Instead, Mariah and Tanner have chosen to set aside their fears and focus on living the days of their lives. They glory in the sunset from their back deck, the full moon from their bedroom window. They bake cookies for nurses and visit patients in the chemo lab and give back by offering a listening ear and a knowing heart. This couple decided early on to be open about their cancer battle and now have a tribe of followers who pray for them. Prayer is a powerful thing.
For the complete editorial, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.