June 3, 2017 was uneventful. I worked out in the morning, G had a softball game, and we went out with friends at night. As far as we were concerned, the last obstacle standing between us and the cure had been conquered the day before. We were officially on the road to cancer-free.
But a year ago today, I was not thinking about the future or the next appointment. I’m sure that I spent the day reflecting on where we’d been the year prior, on June 3, 2016.
Yesterday, I mentioned Matt’s version of his diagnosis story. A few days earlier I said I had a faint idea of how I’d handle the story unfolding during these June days in 2016. Some time before that I promised to share mine and Matt’s versions of his diagnosis story. These days in June 2017 when the days were relatively quiet, when my thoughts wandered back to 2016, seem as good a time as any to share the story.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that Matt and I were off in 2016, in those weeks and days prior to his diagnosis. I worried about depression or a mid-life crisis. I even considered the frightening possibility that he was having an affair. On June 3, 2016, I typed Matt’s symptoms into WebMD’s symptom checker. The first condition to load onto the screen was brain cancer.
I closed the laptop, frustrated, and went for a run. Near the end of the loop around my neighborhood, I answered a phone call from a friend. In 2016, I didn’t talk about my seemingly disintegrating marriage much, or at all, but for some unknown reason—possibly because our lives were coming to a boiling point—the story poured out during this phone call. I told this friend that Matt and I weren’t okay and I didn’t know how to fix it. Like a good friend, she said she’d always be there and would destroy him if he was having an affair.
Near the end of the conversation, I told her the diagnosis WebMD came up with and we laughed because it always seemed as if WebMD was diagnosing people with brain cancer. (No offense to WebMD, but there’s a reason the Internet is full of memes about it.) Of course Matt didn’t have brain cancer. Brain cancer was something that happened to other people in other places.
I didn’t think about that WebMD diagnosis again until a few days later, when Matt was in the hospital and a doctor was showing me a CAT scan of Matt’s brain. I called this same friend and told her, dumbstruck, that WebMD was actually right.
Two years ago today, the thought of Matt having a brain tumor was absurd. A year ago today, a life free of brain cancer, one in which he’d been cured from an incurable brain tumor, seemed within our grasp. Today, it’s been four months since the unimaginable.
Brain cancer forced us to fit an impossible amount of hope and anguish and life into just two years. Sometimes even I look back and think how did we do all that we did in less than twenty-four months. But that’s the speed of brain cancer. That’s why the story needs to be told.