Michael started coughing many months before, in October of 2008 actually. He had been on the road for several weeks and when he came home in early October, he felt rundown. The cough started up shortly thereafter. At first we thought he had picked something up while he was traveling. When the cough persisted for several weeks, I started suggesting that he go see the doctor about it, but he didn't do so.
After coughing for three months, Michael finally saw our GP in January of 2009. She treated him for allergies. Then when he saw a pulmonologist, he was told he had asthma. I thought he had MAC or tuberculosis because of the night sweats and the weight loss.
But cancer never crossed our minds until May 18th last year.
After Michael's inflammatory markers came back high on some bloodwork the pulmonologist ordered, he sent Michael to get a CT scan. I remember meeting Michael at the medical center that afternoon. We were both happy that he was getting the CT scan because we thought we'd finally get some answers about the cough. Whatever it was, we assumed it would be treatable, and we'd do what we needed to do and get on with our lives.
After the scan, we went home. But it wasn't long before we got a call from the pulmonologist. He wanted to see us that evening so he could go over the results of the scan together. Once again, in our ignorance we were just thinking we'd get a diagnosis and a treatment plan and move on. You know what they say - ignorance is bliss.
Needless to say, our meeting with the doctor was devastating. When he said he thought we were looking at some sort of cancer (pancreatic or kidney), our world came crashing down around us. We both held it together while the doctor made arrangements for Michael to have a biopsy the next day, but once we left his office I started crying and couldn't stop. Michael was in shock. I had the presence of mind to drive us to first my parents' and then to his parents' to share the bad news.
It was one of the worst days of my life. And in the days and weeks that followed, as we came to learn what kind of cancer Michael had, we knew the odds were against us. But even then, I would never have expected that he'd be gone less than a year later.