My occasionally snarky thoughts on everything from motherhood, politics, life and current events. Cocktails are sometimes mandatory. Bottoms up!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The glass is definitely half full....

An Uncle Ben update.

Right after I started this blog, my beloved Uncle Ben was diagnosed with stage four renal (kidney) cancer that had already spread to his sacrum and lungs.

The entire family was beyond shell shocked -- he had only gone to the doctor because of some lower back pain that he couldn't get a handle on.

Once the doctors discovered the gravity of his situation, he was told that his cancer was inoperable and that he should get his affairs in order.

Boom. That's it. End of story.

Well, not for long...

Keep in mind, my father's side of the family can be a cantankerous lot. All of the siblings are headstrong, intelligent and opinionated individuals. And as much as they all love each other, they tend to piss each other off in equal amounts.

When they are all on the warpath, it is something to behold. (Can you say duck and cover?) But when they are all on the same team working together for a common goal -- it's beyond awesome. In this instance, they linked arms and joined forces (even though they all live 1000's of miles apart), and decided that "Operation Cure Ben" was going to move forward, regardless of what the doctors said.

Still, hope was in short supply. The cancer was at an advanced stage and there were some terrible issues with insurance to overcome. And we were all scared that even with insurance/financial resolution we would not be able to find a doctor willing to take the case. Until we did. And I thank God for him every day.

Last summer the girls and I took a trip out to Wyoming. Uncle Ben needed me. He wanted me to come and stay with him for a while and frankly, my parents needed a break. (They had taken turns staying with him over those first months, driving back and forth over the mountain to provide constant care.) My brother wanted to come out too, and wanted me there to facilitate his visit. So I loaded up the car with kids and dogs, kissed my hubby goodbye and went.

I needed to see for myself how Uncle Ben was faring and how the treatment was going. Short visits on the phone and reports from my mother just weren't cutting it. And I wanted to put my arms around him and tell him how much I loved him and what me meant to me. I was preparing myself for a real goodbye, and I was heartsick.

We had a great visit. Lots of talking, a few tears, and many "I love you's" were exchanged. I cooked for him and cleaned his house and would massage his feet in the afternoons while he dozed. We have always been very close, but this was the first one-on-one time we had had since I was a kid.

I thanked him for having always been there for me and for always letting me know I was loved. I made sure I said and did what I needed too. It was crunch time and nothing was certain. I was preparing for the worst, which flies in the face of my optimistic nature, but I felt I had no choice. I hated that I had to leave. And that I live so far away.

I got an email on Thursday from my folks. Uncle Ben had seen his oncologist for a follow-up. The results of the latest scans were in....

There is no sign of the cancer anywhere. It is all gone, as far as they can tell. Nuked into oblivion. Sayonara. Buh-bye.

Did you hear that??? GONE. All of it. A miracle. (That's my dad on the left with Uncle Ben -- taken right after they got the news....)

The doctor is over the moon. As he puts it, seeing results like these makes it all worth it. Uncle Ben has been recovering beautifully! Gaining weight, feeling good, enjoying his life and family and friends. A miracle in its truest form. I can hardly allow myself to believe it!

Of couse he will have to be monitored closely for some time to come, and his treatment will continue, but we are going to have him around for a while. And it's possible that it will be a looong while to boot. That makes me beyond happy.

So anyway, for any of you who said a prayer for my Uncle Ben... thank you. Thank you so much. I got my miracle. And the glass remains half full....