We Built This House
Upon first receiving my diagnosis in 2018, I had zero sense of how much time I had left. A friend suggested that we should "accept the diagnosis, but not the prognosis" and we took this advice to heart. When asked if we would like to know my prognosis, we told the doctors we didn't want to hear their best estimate on life expectancy. It was hard not to approach everything with an air of finality, wondering whether I was experiencing my last Christmas, birthday, graduation, etc. However, in short order, I realized this was no way to live. It was that last word I wanted to embrace.
It was actually pretty freeing. I made an effort to give far fewer shits about many of the trivial things that consume us (though, at times I still can’t help but give a few), and I made getting as strong as I could a primary goal. Check, and check. 375 lb deadlift? Also a check.
As I made my way through different phases of treatment I used the words of Han Solo as my new mantra: “Never Tell Me The Odds”. I know that survival rates for GBM are not encouraging; however, Kristen and I had a conversation a few months back. At that time, I said to her “What if I’m one of the outliers? What if I’m one of the few people whose progression-free survival falls outside of the normal range?" With each new clear MRI report, we feel more and more hopeful that this might just be the case, and the news we received yesterday was no exception.
In March, when Covid-19 changed day to day life for everyone here in Ontario, we weren't sure if the MRI I had scheduled in April would be considered essential, or if we would be able to keep our appointment in London to get the results. We were happy to learn that the hospital in Owen Sound was still able to do the scan and that my neuro-oncologist was able to meet with us during our scheduled appointment time via a web-conference right from our home. He shared that this was yet another scan showing no new tumour growth and that life can continue as normal (or at least as Covid normal?) until the next scan and checkup in July. I am so grateful for my continued good health.
Don’t get me wrong. This whole ordeal hasn’t been smooth sailing. There’s always some uncertainty every three months when I have that MRI and each headache that arrives brings with it more than just a twinge of anxiety. However, beyond our amazing friends and family, I feel blessed to have gone through all of this with Kristen. When we got married we made a pledge “for better or for worse” and it didn’t get much worse than this.
I’m a music person and over our (almost) 17 years of marriage, I like to think Kristen has become one as well. I mean, she has more than five albums to her name now and her tastes are almost as varied as mine now, so that’s a win, right? Every now and then I find a song that speaks to me, and I love sharing them with her. One which came to mind recently is We Built This House by Germany’s greatest national export, Scorpions. They sing:
There is a time
To face stormy weather
But we are always standing strong
A lifetime together
I like this song because a) it’s by the Scorpions and b) because it captured where we were (are?) at a certain point in time. If we ever renew our vows, I’m using these lyrics - no joke. Why try to write some bullshit when someone else has already said it better than you ever could? So here we are, almost two years removed from a pretty life-changing moment. However, we didn’t crack or break or fall. We built this house on a rock.