Right Now

Right now I pick up my ringing phone and hear the voice of a dear friend on the other end. From the other side of the ocean she sits in her own waiting. Her belly swollen with child - today is her due date. I have longed for this baby with her for years and my heart beats in joy with her even as I sit in my own very different sort of waiting. Right now I open the blinds and let the light pour through the massive window in Bryan's hospital room. Bryan's sister Tamara and I make plans for how we should decorate Bryan's room. We hang a poster on the wall with the simple words "A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices" printed in bold black ink. My heart needs these words. I will rejoice. I will allow my heart to feel the thrill of Christmas even here.

Right now I see K coming down the hall at us, interrupting our quiet walk, her arms waving in a gesture that clearly means we are exactly the people she was coming to see. K is military personnel and a nurse and she is the one who organizes the schedule and logistics of the study. She's the one we go to when we have questions. K has answers. And right now she has the answer to the question we've been waiting for: "when will Bryan's treatment start and which arm of the trial will he be randomized into?"

It bursts out of her "you've been placed in the standard treatment arm of the study, the group that receives five days of chemo."

Right now I'm sitting in a nice little sitting area at NIH listening to a guy singing Christmas carols in the courtyard below me. And although I can't say I feel totally in the Christmas spirit I can say that I feel peaceful and even joyful. There is a rightness to this moment - with Christmas music filling the air and sunshine pouring through the window and the last unknown of this treatment finally decided.

Right now I balance precariously on the edge of Bryan's bed as the nutritionist discusses with us the ways in which this treatment will effect Bryan's diet. "People always loose weight with this treatment." I can feel the shudder up my spine at her words. Bryan doesn't have anything to loose. I don't want to watch him waste away. She gives suggestions for maintaining weight during the nausea and then begins to give us other instructions that I had never considered before. "Bryan will be immune compromised for awhile. He will be very susceptible to food borne illness, to food poisoning. You will have to be very careful about how his food is prepared." She proceeded to give us a list of off limit foods, foods that are just too risky. "How long will we need to be that careful?" And the answer comes back, "At least three months."

Right now K leans casually against the door in front of me as she explains every detail of the drugs and treatments Bryan will be getting over the next few weeks. She is kind and encouraging, but straightforward and honest. She answers our questions, but more questions only sprout up, questions which she patiently and confidently continues to answers.

I like K - her knowledge and assuredness, her strong personality and confidence are reassuring for me right now. I can feel my heart growing tighter as we talk and tears threaten to come to my eyes, but something about K's demeanor puts me at ease and makes me feel stronger and ready for this fight.

Right now I watch as the nurse hooks my husband up to the chemo drugs and starts the drip. I know that there's no going back now and I'm glad. I don't want to watch my husband go through what he's about to go through. But I'd rather walk this road then continue in the waiting. I'd rather walk this road and have hope that this treatment might work then do nothing and wait for the inevitable. So I watch each drop fall from the bag that hangs on the IV pole and I take a deep breath as it begins right now.

Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany

MelanomaBethany Stedman