A man holding a baseball bat, a woman, and a daughter look into the horizon with determined expressions.

Three Strikes You're Out – Not in this Family

One, two, three strikes you’re out. Maybe in baseball, but not in this family, not in our battle with the opposing team: cancer. We’re not walking off the field defeated. The opposing team, cancer, has thrown some heavy and hard pitches at us, but we’ve fought back and continue to fight.

Both teams (cancer vs. us) want to win, but we have so much more on our side: science, the medical community, prayer, nutrition, human determination and spirit, compassionate people. We may have three strikes, but we keep swinging and we plan to win.

Three strikes

Strike one: prostate cancer

Strike one: my husband's diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2013 resulting in a radical prostatectomy and over two years of chemo. Two more recurrences, more treatment, more chemo. We are in the midst of another recurrence trying to figure out where the cancer is hiding. Fortunately, a new test, the PSMA scan, may help us discover where that cancer is so we can treat it. Again. This test wasn’t available when he was first diagnosed but gives us a new direction now.

Strike two: bladder cancer

Strike two: five years later, my husband’s bladder cancer. Surprising to everyone, it was a whole new primary cancer, completely unrelated or connected to the prostate cancer. Even the oncologists were surprised that was the case. Unfortunately, cancer seems to like to inhabit his body, but thankfully the surgery removed all the cancer and his bladder has remained cancer free.

Every year, like many who are routinely tested after having battled cancer, we hold our breath in the hopes that the test will show the cancer has not returned. Every year we have been grateful it has not reared its ugly head.

Strike three: breast cancer

Strike three: my daughter’s recent diagnosis of breast cancer. She’s recuperating from a mastectomy and awaiting results from the tumor and lymph node biopsies, as of my writing this. Cancer is so hard emotionally, physically, mentally when it hits your spouse but magnified to a whole new degree when it's your child.

After healing from this mastectomy, she’ll be scheduled for her second mastectomy. Since this is her second breast cancer within two years, her surgeon and oncologist have recommended a double mastectomy even though there isn’t any active cancer in the other breast. The surgeries will be done separately to allow time to recuperate between the procedures.

We're not defeated

We may have three strikes against us, against our family, against health, but we continue to fight. We know that, like in baseball, it takes a team and you can't fight alone. Not only a team, but when fighting cancer, it takes a whole village.

Our village includes so many, not even considering the medical professionals. We have the support, love and encouragement of our family, friends who we consider to be family, work colleagues who care so much, the patient navigator, the counselor who specializes in helping cancer patients, our Bible study group, church members, neighbors who bring food and shovel the sidewalks, and the parents who offer to babysit.

So, so many people. We have a great village, a great team. Cancer has none. We may have three strikes, but that doesn’t mean we’re defeated. We fight to win.

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