There’s so many ways I could write this story, but as a newly diagnosed cancer patient of a few hours ago, I’m going to throw the words out there and see what sticks. I really don’t know what to say, but know I need to say something.

It seems like an eternity ago, that I was sitting in the room beside my wife Annie and heard these tragic words.
Ann you have multiple myeloma, cancer of the bone marrow. It’s terminal, metastatic, treatable, but not curable. And so it was.

During her 30 month battle with cancer, I really didn’t have much time to look back and think about what she must have been feeling on the day of her diagnosis. I’m sure her world was spiraling out of control, but, I guess my question has always been, what does it feel like emotionally to be told you have cancer. I’m going beyond all the trauma, pain, and suffering. I’m talking about the word “Cancer.”

Does the word “Cancer” send shivers down your spine? If it doesn’t, you’re like I was prior to Annie’s diagnosis. I’d never know anyone with cancer, and therefore, had no respect for it. Big mistake!

Malignant Cancer is a total nightmare, an evil entity unleashed on an unsuspecting person. Didn’t see it coming, didn’t know it was there, until it was too late. It will come at you in the night, like a stranger in the dark, and terrorize your world in ways you cannot imagine.

Cancer is the master of deception. Just when you think you have it under control, it comes back for another round, then another, always reminding you that it cannot easily be controlled.

Cancer it the master thief. It loves cars, trucks, houses, bank accounts, white picket fences, and just about anything you own. Eventually, when you’ve had enough and feel you have nothing else to give, you fall to your knees in despair, and that’s when you learn one of life’s most valuable lesson. All those material things meant nothing, as you watch your loved one slip away into the night. That’s how it was for me.

This is how it is now.

At 4:00 p.m. I arrived at my urologists office to get the results of my 3 February 2016 prostate biopsy. As I sat there and the big clock on the wall kept ticking away, one second at a time, turning to one minute at a time, then it hit the one hour mark. That’s when I knew I was in trouble. I had read somewhere that when the diagnosis is bad, they will leave you until you’re the last patient, allowing them to spend as much time with you as you need. And that’s very important. (Of course that would not apply at a cancer center where their making diagnoses all day long.)

Five years, three months, and a few days post Annie’s death, I was diagnosed tonight, 17 Feb 2016, at 5:30 p.m. with prostate cancer. My cancer is malignant, but unlike Annie’s it appears we caught it early. Out of 12 core samples, biopsies, 6 were malignant. So the left side of my prostate is laced with the cancer. This week or next their going to do a genetic test on my cancer cells to see if the cancer is aggressive or not. They don’t think it is, but apparently the pathologist kind of left it at, it’s too close to call. I’ll be seeing a radiology/oncologist in the next couple weeks or so, and he will advise me on the proper course of action on controlling and perhaps killing this cancer.

Question answered: How does it feel to have cancer?

One of my first thoughts was fear of the unknown. Do I really know for sure what’s going to be the outcome? No! I really don’t. And that’s all because I know cancer. What you or the scientists think you know, as I’ve learned through Annie’s journey, may be far from the truth and what cancer has in mind for you. I know, cancer doesn’t have a mind of its own, but it sure pops up or spreads to places where it would not normally be expected at the early stages of the disease. So I’m not taking anything for granted. I’ll know more when all the testing is done.

Just knowing the cancer is there, well, my first thought was, I just want to take a knife and cut it out. Ouch! That would hurt. But, it is the reality of the mind. It’s like something full of dread and nasty has invaded my body. I don’t like it, don’t want to deal with it, but if I don’t there will be consequences down the road. And I don’t want that, I know all too well about the consequences.

When I was a youngster, my mom used to say to me, you look so much like daddy, her father. He was the grandfather I never met. You see, he died in his fifties from a ten year battle with prostate cancer. At the moment I wish I wasn’t so much like him. Still, it gives me hope knowing that he fought the battle with the beast in the days when medical care was pretty grim, so he obviously had a slow growth cancer. And as the story goes as told by my beloved mother, her daddy was a man with means, and they had everything they needed growing up, until he got the cancer. Cancer took it all.

I wrote in some of my blogs that when Annie was fighting cancer she was always teaching me things, and that she was a gift that just kept on giving. I’m so glad I paid attention.

As a first time caregiver, my wife Annie had to bear the burden of my lack of knowledge. But, I learned fast, and thanks to today’s modern technology some of the big words thrown out were easy to decode.

Yes, I’m entering the world of cancer once again, but this time I won’t be deceived or fooled by the beast in the room. I’ll know when I need fluids, what normal blood counts are, what I need to do if I have low immunity and get a fever, or develop shallow quick breathing, and so on. I just about saw everything there was to see care giving for Annie. So there should be no surprises. Cancer is cancer. Once all my initial testing is over I will know exactly where I’m at and what I need to do.

Annie’s journey was always about dying, as there was no way she was going to survive her cancer. My journey, as I understand it at the moment is going to be about living, as I have an opportunity to beat this cancer if I am blessed. Anytime you are fighting cancer, always remember, cancer is the enemy, it’s real, unpredictable, can be difficult to control, and it will hurt you if given the chance.

When I was preparing to leave the doctors area and standing with the doctor and the nurse, he told her to give me the prostate package. When she handed it to me, it was a big white closed container full of all kinds of information on emotions, dealing with the diagnosis, prostate cancer and a sundry of other things. After glancing at the booklets, I handed it back to her and said I would not be needing it. The doctor looked at me and said, something to the effect, you’ve already been through cancer with your wife.

Yes I have, and she had one of these packages. The packages are invaluable to a new person entering the world of cancer, and I learned a lot about nutrition and so many other things. But, some things you never forget when you caring for a dying loved one.

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Because of Annie.


Hear the whole story in Bob’s book, Because of Annie. All proceeds are donated to cancer charities.

About Bob Harrison

Bob Harrison was raised in the heart of the Redwoods in the far northwest comer of northern California. The little town of Crescent City, California was located near some of the world’s tallest trees, with the west shoreline being the Pacific Ocean. Bob spent most of his time fishing the two local rivers where some of the finest Steelhead and Salmon fishing is located. He was also well known up and down the north coast as an avid motorcycle racer, winning several hundred trophies, and one Oregon State title. Bob graduated from Del Norte High School with the class of 1966, then spent a one year stint at the College of the Redwoods, before having a strong sense of patriotism and joining the United States Air Force. After three years of service, Bob met Annie, the love of his life, and they got married in England in 1972. Bob’s love of country pushed him on to what turned out to be a very successful career, retiring in 1991. Bob’s last military assignment was Wichita, Kansas, a place he and Annie decided to call home. Together they developed and ran two very successful antique businesses until the stranger knocked on their door and changed their lives forever; “Because of Annie.”

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