Where we’re headed: Colombia and Cancer

Last month I was feeling stir-crazy. Andy and I had gone to a bar to watch an away soccer match on TV and I pulled out my phone and started researching plane tickets instead of watching the Portland Timbers. I wanted somewhere close enough that the plane tickets wouldn’t be outrageous but far enough to be really cool, somewhere where we could use our scuba certification, somewhere neither of us had been before.

Sorry to bury the lead. I hate to say it but Cancer is not a city in Colombia. It’s exactly what you think it is… the Big C. The big, stupid C.

Anyway, that night I walked down to Powell’s and bought a Colombia guide book.

The next day I bought plane tickets.

But sometimes the timing just sucks. When I clicked ‘Book Now’ I had no idea that the next week our world would stop. But it did. Not your world, not the actual world… but our world: the wonderful little world that is Andy and I – the one where we’re young, healthy and happy and spend our free time gallivanting across the globe. That one. It stopped. Right there in Home Depot when our doctor called.

Andy has muscle cancer.

Here are the technical terms: it’s a low-grade sarcoma and it’s wrapped around his sciatic nerve. It probably won’t require chemotherapy or radiation but it will require surgery. The damn thing is the size of a brick – a big, terrifying brick.

There are probably some really great writers out there that could come up with a funny and witty blog post about cancer – I doubt this post will be either. I just hadn’t posted anything in a while and I thought I’d let everyone know what’s up. What’s up is cancer and what’s down is the little carefree life that Andy and I have been calling our own for as long as we’ve known each other.

Here’s what’s new:

  • I’ve been neurotically hoarding pens in my purse. I hadn’t had one at Home Depot and my subconscious never wants to make that mistake again. On a side note, one of the Beaverton Home Depot employees may or may not think I’m some weepy lunatic that can’t control her emotions when browsing through electrical supplies while in desperate need of a writing utensil. I can picture how the conversation between the two men went… “Wow, she sure is upset about those electrical specifications.”
  • Andy and I realized we deal with bad things very differently. When we got the news I wanted to crawl under the covers with a carton of ice cream and a bottle of cab and cry. I wanted to call those covers home until the whole ordeal was over – or at least until our next doctor’s appointment. Andy on the other hand, wanted to hit the Mississippi Street Fair in North Portland, go out 80’s dancing with friends on the Portland Spirit and continue meeting with real estate and bank people to move forward with an investment property search we’d been looking into. On a side note, there may or may not be a Plaid Pantry employee who was seriously concerned about me when I was balling my eyes out trying to keep it together while buying Vitamin Water at 2 AM all decked out in 80’s garb after a night spent dancing on a boat.
  • Things are in perspective. I’ve never really been one to sweat the small stuff, but now, I’m even less sweaty. I’ve lain on my back in grassy parks and watched clouds. I’ve let people come over when the house isn’t in perfect order. I’ve even come out about the fact that I’m still laid off – judgmental people be damned, my husband has cancer, if I want to take care of him, take care of the house and take care of the dog and my blog for the time being, so be it. Work can wait.

Here’s what’s the same:

  • Not much.

The waiting has been the hardest. First, Andy tried staying home from work to let it sink in – he is an electrician after all and it can’t be all that great to be distressed while dealing with potentially dangerous things like high voltage. Then he was bored at home and went back to work. Then we started packing our social calendar. Then we spent a few nights at home, alone, watching every single episode of Fringe and alternating between going to bed way too early and way too late.

We were told today that the surgery would most likely happen on the 29th of this month. I’m in the waiting room right now while Andy is getting a final MRI. After this, we wait. There is literally nothing that the doctors need from us for the next 20 days… 20 whole days. The doctor said we should do our best to not worry about it and he asked if we had any plans.

Umm… we do have a two tickets to Colombia for next Friday.

I’d written off the whole trip as bad timing but when we got home earlier today I pulled out the guide book. Waiting sucks but I guess if we have to wait we can do it while we check out the streets of Bogotá, wander around historic Cartagena and scuba dive in the Caribbean.

A few days earlier and we wouldn’t have gone. A few days later and we wouldn’t have gone. It’s ironic… the trip that seemed like it had the worst timing of all now has a very important purpose and oddly enough, has perfect timing.

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12 responses to “Where we’re headed: Colombia and Cancer

  1. Cancer is stupid. It effing sucks. I’m glad you have tickets to Colombia, and I pray the trip is fantastmical for you both, and filled with all kinds of amazing memories, even in the small things. My prayers are with you both over the next few weeks. Thank you for sharing, Julie.

  2. Sending the best vibes and positive thoughts to you and Andy! I hope you have a great vacation and it helps you take your minds off the big C, even if only for a moment at a time. ❤

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  4. Oh my goodness, I had no idea when I started following you yesterday. This trip IS perfect timing. Enjoy it to the fullest before coming back to reality. You have people (strangers, like me) thinking about you! xx

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