So, that's the gentle title for today's post. In the last post I mentioned that things have been a wee bit tough around here. So here's part of the story that goes with that. I've held on to this blog for a few weeks but now is the time to post it.
Really? R.E.A.L.L.Y.? What the hell, cancer? Because...wouldn't you think that we've paid our dues to cancer because we lost Jim? I'm gonna say yes
. Apparently that wasn't enough. And there's no easy way to say it. We recently found out that my sister-in-law Becky has Hodgkin's lymphoma. FUCK. Are you kidding me? Becky is married to my brother Kevin, and they have a handsome, sweet, brilliant little 18 month old boy named Darby.
Fill in the blank here...
Jim is to Kate as _____ is to Kevin.
We Fergusons tend to marry people that balance us out. People that are the missing component in our family. People that have good strong personalities and a solid head on their shoulders. Heaven knows we need it. Becky is everything to Kevin (and to the rest of our family, for that matter) that Jim was to me.
Kevin did a lot 'o livin before he met Becky. With Becky, Kevin managed to put himself through school while working full time, find a great job after he graduated, and together they have the cutest little boy to walk the streets of Kohler. (Anyone who wants to fight for that title will have to see me, his Aunt Kate.) Kevin and Becky moved to Kohler a few months ago. Ironically, they ended up moving in i.m.m.e.d.i.a.t.e.l.y. n.e.x.t. d.o.o.r. t.o. m.e. My parents bought the house next door, and then promptly contracted a case of buyer's remorse. So they offered to sell the house to Kevin and Becky if Kev could find a job. Well, Kev nailed the first job he interviewed for and started work on February 14. They opted to move to Kohler for the same reasons we all do - a better quality of life. They were in St. Paul before that, and with big city living also comes big city price tags. So here they are. Next door. I fretted that things would be awkward. And then you know what happened? Becky just flat out said to me "I don't want this to be an 'Everybody Loves Raymond' scenario." Yeeeeessssssss...Becky, you are my kind of girl.
So, here they are in Kohler. Over the last couple of years, Becky has lost significant amounts of weight. At first, we praised her for losing weight after Darby was born. Then I was annoyed as I watched her get thin and more than a wee bit jealous of her slim figure. Recently she's been fretting about the weight because it's been coming off despite her eating normally - bearing in mind that the Ferguson version of normal is 3x more than the average person. She'd been to the doctor twice in St. Paul, worried about the weight loss. Her thyroid and bloodwork tested fine. They told her her body was just leveling out after Darby's birth.
She recently decided that she was ready to try again and figure out this weight loss thing. It's been bothering her.
20 minutes into a meeting with our general doctor (a shout out to Dr. Michelle for actually listening to her), Dr. Michelle told Becky that she thought she might have some form of lymphoma and that she needed a scan and bloodwork done immediately. They are so new in town that Becky didn't even know how to get to the doctor's office, let alone hear news like that and then figure out where to go for the scan. She called my parents (who happened to be visiting) and my dad and I went to pick her up.
While at the scan, drinking the lovely contrast mixture, she looked at me and said "What are the odds that Jim moved to Kohler and got diagnosed with cancer, and now I move to Kohler and get diagnosed with cancer?" Ffffffff. I don't know. I said "The odds are pretty damn slim, Becky. Let's hope that works in our favor!" It didn't.
The radiologist read the report immediately. We got on the phone with the doctor. Yes, everything appears to be consistent with lymphoma.
Becky has already had some lymph nodes removed and biopsied. And she's already met with Dr. Kumar at my beloved Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic. And she's already got her port.
The good news: Becky's bloodwork all came back completely normal. Yippee! She got her first chemo treatment on Tuesday, and they fawned all over her at the Vince. Of course they did, because they're amazing like that. I still keep hoping that maybe it's all a big mistake and that she just needs to drink more water. Or something silly like that. The success rates for Hodgkin's lymphoma are astoundingly positive. The doctor repeated many times "Becky, I need to stress that this is VERY treatable." Good. Because for heaven's sakes, she's got an adorable little boy at home that needs her...and I'm not just referring to my brother. ;-)
Unfortunately, Becky's two major encounters with cancer have included her mother, who she lost to breast cancer when Becky was only eight years old. And Jim. (The doctor said that the lymphoma is not related to Becky's family history.) Becky and Jim had a unique relationship, as adjusting to the Ferguson lifestyle requires a support group all it's own. They were fond of each other, and both of them have a keen sense of wit - apparently that's a must-have for dealing with the Ferguson clan.
I laughed and said that it's pretty scary when you're dealing with the Ferguson clan for your support network. But if there's one thing Fergusons can do, it's rally. We're mixing the Ferguson affinity for the excessive with the notorious Ferguson temper. Lymphoma? Ha! You don't have a chance around here. Becky is a Ferguson. She may have been born a Garner and raised by Siranys...but she's a Ferguson. We're like the Hotel California. You can check out but you can never leave. Poor Jim...with a good strong last name like Marventano, we still considered him a Ferguson. (I'm sure he would have begged to differ, but you couldn't tell my brothers anything else.) We are fiercely protective of our own. And Becky's got her fighting gloves on. Bring it.
I'm saddened and angry. I'm downright pissed. I thought we were done with this. It's brought up emotions and memories I'd forgotten about. The smell of chemo. Feeling guilty when I left the house for a girl's night. The emotional rollercoaster that accompanies news like this. Even sitting out on the hospital lawn, crying into the phone, talking to Jim's sister after they gave us the news. Kevin and Becky have a long summer ahead, but I don't have a single shred of doubt that they will be victorious.
I love Becky for the woman and mom that she is; for her biting wit and frank words; for her empathy and caring. I also love her for loving my brother, and allowing him to be who he is, and helping bring him to his fullest potential.
Becky, if it's any comfort, you've got the crazy, hot tempered, protective, excessive Fergusons behind you. We love you with reckless abandon because you are our family. It will be okay. You will be okay. And when we get your "No Evidence of Disease" notice, it's going to be NUTS. You belong with us like peanut butter belongs with jelly. Or, in Ferguson terms...like a bratwurst and a cold beer on a hot summer day.
We love you.