To my 26 year old self,
Your name is Phanno, and you are from Vancouver, British Columbia – the beautiful West Coast. You have a high-spirited four year old daughter named Kehlani and a beautiful wife named Kimberly.
In 2018 your wife, Kimberly, will be diagnosed with a very rare form of lung cancer called Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. In her case it will be a tumour that was growing in the “Y” of her lungs. At the time of the diagnosis the doctors are unsure if it was even going to be operable via surgery. With it being such a rare form of cancer and very little data to support the issue, it was tough to say if she would come out of this alive or if time would run its course.
When you first found out about her cancer, you told her she wasn’t going to be alone on this journey and you would be there every step of the way. From attending every appointment, to helping her learn to walk again and giving her a shoulder to lean on when things got tough. The goal will be to get her healthy again, but the ultimate goal is to have her to be able to hold your daughter, Kehlani once again.
Throughout the experience it is very important that you make sure that she is constantly in a good headspace. Carrying a major burden like an illness can really break down a person, sometimes even to the point of no return. Make sure to check on her everyday, but not to the point of annoyance. Speak with her often about the situation, but try not to bring up the future. As much as you’ll want to plan for the future, bringing up the uncertainty will expose all the anxiety. Your focus, should be keeping her in the present and to just enjoy the days that you share together. Enjoy the little things that make you a family – the laughter, the jokes and all the love.
Staying Together, Every Step of the Way
Luckily for Kimberly, she will have the Chief of Thoracic Surgery followed by top tier medical staff to assist with the surgery. They are going to remove the tumour, clean the lines (remove all the cancer), sew her back up and she will recover within a two week time frame. However like most things in life, things will not go as planned. There will be some complications after the surgery, which will landed her in the ICU unit in a medically induced coma. She will be supported by a ventilator and a breathing tube. You will not be able to hear her laughter, her voice, and her awful mom jokes for quite some time. During this time, you will sit by her bedside everyday and talk to her to her anyway, hoping she could hear you and praying she knows that you were there with her.
Staying Positive and Motivated
Getting over the hump of what seemed to be the hardest part of the journey will lead you to believe that the road to recovery is within reach, but there will be one more obstacle she will have to go through: Radiation Therapy. It will be a 6-month program which has her go to therapy for an hour a day, every single day. You will see her mood change drastically as well as her physical appearance. Her hair will become fragile, she will often be very forgetful and it will be a challenge for her to eat— during these dark days one of the most challenging tasks will be to keep her motivated.
But remember this, In life we often don’t get second chances. When Kimberly feels upset and asked “Why is this happening to me?”, It will be up to you to remind her that she gets a second chance at life. Your encouragement will continue to give her a different perspective. She will have gone through something very tragic and it will make her feel guilty that she is able to breathe fresh air once again. Once she can fight through the cancer—mentally and physically, she could do anything. This will forever motivate her.
There will be no specific guide to all of this, but in my eyes it’s very simple. When you love someone, you’ll do anything for them. Anything to see them smile, anything to hear them laugh, and anything for them to be happy—and that is the promise you made to Kimberly, until infinity. It will be a long journey, but if I can promise you anything, I promise we will all come out the other side of this healthier and happier.
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