After we let the diagnosis ring in our ears for a few minutes we rallied. We talked about the next step. Dr. D. told Patrick that he wants to remove a portion of his tongue, the lymph nodes in his neck, and then reconstruct his tongue. He also told us that Patrick should head to the hospital to get a CAT scan to see if the cancer had spread to other parts of his body. One step down, one to go. The scan could deliver more devastating news or a glimpse of hope in that the cancer had not metastasized. Ironically, the request was faxed to the very department Patrick works in at the hospital. His coworkers and friends would be performing the scan.
We informed family and friends and were showered with supportive phone calls, texts, and emails. Everyone promised to keep us in their thoughts and prayers. We were appreciative. He left for the appointment and planned to stay after to work his regular shift. He takes his role as a provider very seriously, something I truly admire. Although, it was probably best for him to be at work to keep his mind off of things, it was hard to let him go. He told me that I didn't need to be there for the scan and that I should stay home with the girls while they napped.
Patrick had a soft tissue neck scan with contrast three hours after we received the initial diagnosis. Once again, we waited. The system where the images go to be read went down minutes after the images were sent. More waiting. The images were read by a radiologist off-site. Dr. F. called Patrick several hours later and gave him brief preliminary results while trying to be vague. In the report she used several multisyllabic medical terms. Words that translate to mildly inflamed lymph nodes, not necessarily due to cancer, and the lesion on his tongue was difficult to see possible due to obscurity (read: fillings in his teeth). I considered this good news. The blaring (metastasizing cancer) sirens were not going off.
Another two day wait left ample time to let things really start to settle in. Cancer. I know that Patrick will survive this journey because he is strong and has so many people supporting him. What I also know is that this is going to be a difficult journey. One that will leave scars, physically, emotionally and mentally. No one wants to see their loved one endure what Patrick is about to go through. But I will do it. I will do it because I love him. At this point, I most fear the physical pain he will suffer. Thankfully, we have our two beautiful daughters. They truly are like medicine. I am sad they have had to see us get upset, but thankful that they are young enough that they will not remember these days. They will not remember this journey.
Today, Friday, we will meet with Dr. D. to discuss CT results, surgery and later treatment. Our list of questions is getting longer. We hope to leave there with a plan of action. A plan that will lead to a quick end to this journey. A journey that ends with Patrick's health restored.