Actually first you deny. At least I did. I think everyone in my family acknowledged the diagnosis before I did. I kept thinking, “they told me in January there was no cancer,” and “it isn’t confirmed yet.”
Last Wednesday it was confirmed. I have pancreatic cancer. It’s been there since December when I started feeling sick and having pain after eating, right before Christmas. It was there before that, but that’s when it started letting me know something was wrong. It was there when our wonderful Tracey Headrick detected a mass on my pancreas when I went in to the ER here in Alamosa in January with my eyes and skin yellow (thankfully that has been taken care of.) But the brushings that were taken in Colorado Springs, where I was flown to in January, indicated no cancer, and the folks there said to just come back in six weeks to have the stent removed.
I knew something was still wrong but thought it might be gall bladder or something like that, easily fixed. When I went back the first part of this month to get the stent out, the doctor in Springs who performed the procedure ordered more tests. Like our Tracey, he is straightforward and upfront, and I appreciate that.
The tests confirmed the cancerous mass. It has grown. It has affected other things like blood vessels. That’s the insidious nature of cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is not easily treated and cured. I know people who are beating the odds with it and I have known people who haven’t. While I am hopeful, I am also realistic about those odds.
And if God grants me more time, I will be grateful. If He doesn’t, I will still be grateful, because as my mother has said many times since her cancer returned, “I have no complaints with God.” He has been very good to me. His grace and mercy would be enough, but He has given me many other blessings besides. I have had good health for most of my life. I have a family who loves me. I have enjoyed the company of many fur faces in my life. I have known many wonderful people in this San Luis Valley that has been my home for more than three decades. I have always known warm shelter and good food. I have gotten to take trips to places like Disneyland. I have seen a lighthouse up close and waded in the ocean.
I have been able to do what I felt called to do for many years. That will no longer be the case, however. I feel I need to re-prioritize my time, especially since it might be shorter than I thought. So the first week in April I will be leaving the Courier, which has been my second home for 33 years. That week I will have my first appointment with our oncologist here as well, to discuss treatment options.
Perhaps I will still have years. Perhaps it will be months. If I experience healing in this life, I am OK with that, and if the healing does not happen until heaven, I am OK with that as well.
Because my life is — as it has been since my first breath — in God’s hands.