On Friday, May 22, our lives changed dramatically. My husband Paul had been having headaches and memory issues, but on that day, he woke up in a hotel room in Kansas City and called to tell me he had no idea where he was. I got him on the next plane home to Cleveland and to University Hospital's emergency room. The scan showed what we feared -- three tumors -- and a biopsy told us they were indeed cancerous non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He spent most of the summer at the Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland, and I have been with him every minute of this journey.
Recently Paul was allowed to come home. The past couple of weeks between chemo treatments have had their ups and downs. We had many visits from health care pros – nurses, occupational therapists and physical therapists. We had many visits from friends – including a former coworker of Paul’s from 20 years ago. We had an unexpected trip to the ER overnight, due to a reaction to one particular medication. Paul had chest pains and shortness of breath, and you don’t fool around with those symptoms. I called 9-1-1 at 2:30 a.m., and a rescue crew was here right away. One night in the University Hospital's emergency department and one night for observation, and then he was home again.
We got a surprise package from actress Monica Potter, who has a line of lotions and balms that are made with cancer patients in mind. We ended up giving up our foster dog Roxie, who had lived with us for the past six months. Two dogs and all those new people in the house were overwhelming me, especially with both kids now gone away at college. (Our old man, Harley the yellow lab, is still hanging in there.) And yes, saying goodbye to our son Matt as he headed off for his freshman year was particularly hard.
Meanwhile, two appointments in a row at UH for infusions turned out to be unnecessary. Paul’s blood levels were great, with no need for a boost of platelets! On the way home we celebrated with a stop at Chef Michael Symon’s B Spot Burger joint – our first date of the entire summer! It’s hard to believe we lost a whole season to this awful disease, but we also gained strength in love and relationships along the way.
As we get ready to head back to Seidman Cancer Center and round 4 of chemo, we’re hoping for a knock-out. That’s one thing I keep clinging to, hope. Thank you, #TeamDeLuca.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –