By Bruce Stambaugh
We were rowdy without realizing it. What would you expect from three baby boomer couples?
About every month I meet with two other long-time friends for breakfast. Besides our age bracket, we all have something very special in common. All three of us are prostate cancer survivors.
Randy is a pastor. Kim co-owns his own business with his wife. Through a crisscrossing, intertwined past, we have known each other for most of our adult lives. It was the cancer, however, that brought us even closer together.
We meet at a local restaurant to share. Finding others who have gone through the cancer experience is critical to full recovery, especially emotionally. We are our own support group.
We were all diagnosed within a year of one another. Like so many other cancer patients, we had the same disease in the same location. However, we all had our differences, and each chose, to use the term loosely, a different route for treatment.
Randy had radiation treatments and has stayed cancer-free. Because his cancer had escaped his prostate, Kim’s options were not as simple. He had chemotherapy, radiation and Lupron shots. He has just recently been given better news regarding his long-term recovery, and has good reason for a much more optimistic outlook than he did only a few months ago.
Based on my situation and diagnosis, I chose robotic prostate surgery. I was in the hospital one day and out the next. My PSA tests continue to be immeasurable, just like my compatriots.
We meet to share our progress, and to encourage one another. All three of us are in long-term marriages, and cancer, no matter which kind, affects the spouses, too.
We have been meeting for two years now. Because our spouses are such an integral part of our recovery, we annually do a nice dinner out with the wives. We did so recently, and this time we had even more than our trio of good reports to celebrate.On this particular occasion, we were exulting with Randy’s wife, Amy. Like too many other women, Amy has breast cancer. She just recently completed a lengthy series of challenging radiation treatments. Amy said she was really rejoicing because she now had more hair than I do. That wouldn’t take much.
Her journey isn’t over. But it was a joy to sit around a table and laugh and share instead of worry and dread the unknown. By communing together, we lifted each other’s spirits in a way that none of us could have alone.
My wife and Kim’s needed support, too. As faithful wives, they have had to endure the consequences of both treatment and recovery. They also cared greatly for Amy, with whom they could easily identify.
There is nothing good about cancer. There is no good cancer. There is only cancer.
This night, in this restaurant, gathered with comrades in loving arms and warm hearts, we were as one. Around that dinner table an unspoken common spirit of celebrative unity reigned. Gratitude overcame dread. Communal relief replaced disquieting uncertainty. Laughter was our dessert.
Finally, something good had transformed out of something really bad. We only hoped the restaurant staff and other patrons understood our irrepressible joy.
This column appeared in The Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, OH.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2012