The Journey Into Cancer

The nightly battle continues. I lay for two hours, pretty much the norm, finally deciding to be obedient and write what our heavenly Dad is laying on my heart.

I told Taylor about my outing with Dash. Her first question: “How’d the truck smell, Mom?” For the last couple of months Arch had a….unique smell. He said it was from sweating, but for 26 years I recognized his “sweat” smell, and this was not it. The truck retained this odd odor. She has been spraying it pretty much nonstop for the last month.

A number of years ago an unfamiliar phrase was conveyed to me,”the smell of death….. .”

Arch was full of cancer when we took him to the ER. He had an x-ray at the beginning of the week and they told him he had “shot gun like” spots all over his lungs, prompting a CAT scan. He was allergic to iodine so they couldn’t just send him, “right over”. He had a special prep he had to take over night, scan the next day. Taylor said he went to work that morning. He said he wasn’t going to…. . I was on my way home from CA. My bosses  were so kind as to rearrange my flights so I could get home to my Archie.

Taylor took off work to go with him, and it was a very good thing. They hooked him up to the IV and then sent him into the waiting room with Taylor. We still don’t know what happened because all of the sudden he started vomiting and he sent Taylor running for a nurse. They weren’t sure if they were going to be able to do the CT.

CAT scan complete–check.

That night I was supposed to fly in at 5:30 pm and Taylor was at the airport to pick me up (Archie was in too much pain to meet me). Due to plane malfunctions and delays; I was still in GA at 10 pm. I told Taylor (weather was bad in IN) to get a hotel room and I’d call when I got in. I arrived at 1 am, Taylor picked me up around 1:30. I hadn’t showered since Tuesday night (This was Thursday morning) so I grabbed a quick shower then fell into bed around 2:15 am. I awoke at 5 and called Archie. He was in so much pain he was panting and said he had told the Lord if this is the way it had to be, he was ready to go home. I cried and told him I had to get off the phone.

Taylor and the friend she brought w/her, Dessa, were very quiet. We grabbed all of our stuff and headed for the van where I started calling emergency numbers. They told me I needed to get him to the ER. I called Arch and told him to get ready, we were grabbing him and heading to the hospital.

We were in the ER by 7 am, and his pain was off the charts. They started an IV but were waiting for the CT results to begin medication. Results were in by 8. All of the lymph nodes in his back had fused into a giant mass and were wrapped around his spine. He had cancer all over in his lymph nodes and the lump that had appeared 5 days earlier over his collar bone was only one of many. They narrowed it down to lung cancer or a re-occurrence of  testicular cancer from 16 years ago. They were hesitant to say it was a re-occurrence because after 16 years his chances were between 1-2 percent. Then they asked the questioned that hit him in the gut,”What is your stress level like?” He looked at me with pain in his eyes, knowing I had asked him several times in the last year to walk away from it…..it was too much for him. They needed to biopsy his lung and one of the other lymph nodes to make the determination.

We went into parent mode. Taylor had 3 months til graduation from college. Cancer was not going to stop her. Arch decided he wanted to have her open house, now reception, at the YMC  at Nappanee Missionary, the day after she graduated. By 9 am I was on the phone with the church. They were kind enough to make an exception (they don’t usually reserve out that far) and we had one thing checked off.

The beds on oncology were full so he had to go to the surgical floor until one opened up. They scheduled his biopsy. Unfortunately, his pain tolerance was so high that he was awake for the entire procedure, even as they went into his lung. He had to ASK them to PLEASE give him something because he was feeling EVERYTHING. They were shocked. He came back from the procedure completely alert and very unnerved. That experience later caused a great deal of anxiety when they scheduled the port placement, as the port went directly into his heart.

That began our nine day hospital stay. We were incredibly blessed  that since a roommate had been not been admitted, I could stay with him.

The reason they could not release him sooner was because they couldn’t get a handle on his pain. One night they had maxed out everything the doctor had ordered but he was in agony. He couldn’t sit or lay. He finally just said he couldn’t take it anymore, grabbed his IV tower and headed for the door. We walked for hours in silence, his eyes closed, his breath labored. I’ll never forget that night…. .

The next day they put him on a pain pump.

So what does this have to do with the truck or the smell? When Arch was admitted they started him on antibiotics because he had fluid in his lung and they thought it was pneumonia. The next week, when the antibiotic was long gone, but the fluid was still there, we were told it was the cancer filling his lung.

Archie hadn’t been living with cancer for the last couple of months, he was dying of cancer. Everyday was a day closer to “home,” only not the one occupied by Taylor and me.

So why did I tell you this chapter of our story? I don’t know. This is what God gave me to write. Somebody needed to read this and understand Archie’s journey…and mine. Perhaps it’s so if your family sees the pressure you are under as you are trying to carry the world, they see you bleeding under the strain and hear your bones crunching and ask you to let go but you are afraid because you are terrified of the unknown, you’ll reconsider. Maybe you will put yourselves in our shoes and see the consequences of the decision to stay beneath the load.

Maybe the results would have been the same had he walked away…..but we would have had a lot more time together as a family to make memories. He wouldn’t have been so sick (like at his “show”), or short and grouchy with Taylor and me from fatigue and extinguishing fires. He apologized over and over in the hospital even though we reassured him of forgiveness, but he couldn’t get back the time. Oh the regrets…. .

Matthew 20:33-34 “They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.”

What would life be like if we all asked our loving Savior to open our eyes towards every aspect of our lives? What would happen if we didn’t like what He revealed? Would we have the courage to change?  Would fear of the unknown or failure paralyze us, ultimately causing our own demise?

What is God asking you to do for Him? What does it really mean to “follow“?

Do you have the courage to say that prayer? Do you have honest, Godly people who you trust to speak truth  and be the voice for God?

Will you listen?

Taylor and I are unable to describe the helplessness, watching Archie being slowly crushed and powerless to stop it.

So…….now you know. Are you the one who was suppose to read this? What is God trying to tell you? I’m just the messenger… .

Author: Tracy Cook

Widowed one week before our 27th wedding anniversary, Heavenly Dad continues to carry me, now blessing me with a second chance for love.

3 thoughts on “The Journey Into Cancer”

  1. I just ache for you – for what you’ve been through in such a short time. Cancer is so harsh, so hard to deal with, cope with, each aspect but I think the pain is possibly the worst part of all. So sorry for all Archie had to endure – grateful he didn’t have to suffer longer – praying for continued healing for you and Taylor. ❤️ Love you guys.

  2. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you…….I appreciate your honesty…….I pray for you and Taylor often. You are not forgotten nor is Archie.

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