It was Sept. 16, 2015. Honore was 28, Tom was 30, and it was the first day cancer entered their lives just a short three years into their marriage. They chose laughter as the best medicine and braced for the fight of their lives as he battled late stage three cancer. Twenty rounds of chemo, one surgery and 128 days later, he was cancer free...but their fight was just beginning.
Survivorship is the most wonderful gift and privilege, but quickly became one of their greatest challenges. PTSD, depression, and anxiety were just a few of the demons on their post-cancer doorstep. Honore wrote a book about her time as a caregiver called, "128 Days and Counting" to show how they handled everything. She said her husband had a particularly challenging time with survivorship so much of the book revolves around that. Here is a link to their blog and below are excerpts from her book.
Holy Crap. That Was Awesome.
I was walking up and down the card aisle looking for good thank-you notes for our doctors. I wanted to get a thank-you note for our surgeon and our oncologist, but I was looking for the surgeon’s card first.
I couldn’t find the right card. I didn’t want lovey-dovey thank-you notes; I didn’t want something too dramatic; I wanted something in between. I saw a card that looked promising and pulled it from the cardholder. On the front it read “Holy Crap. That Was Awesome” and the inside was blank. It was perfect. What this surgeon did was awesome. He had opened Tom’s chest, perfectly maneuvered a bunch of tools and a robot in his body, and removed a tumor so we could declare Tom cancer-free. There are days when I can’t keep a serving of lasagna on the spatula long enough to make it to the plate so that kind of precision is not
lost on me.
When we were in the appointment with the surgeon, I grabbed the card out of my bag. I had written a long note in the card and left a few tear drops.
“It’s just a card, but I hope you know how appreciative we are for everything you did to make this happen. We can never repay you, but please know that we are forever grateful for you and your work,” I said.
He paused and took the card from my hand with a very sincere look. “That’s awfully sweet of you. Thank you for letting me be your doctor,” he replied as he gave us a hug and walked out of the room.
It was bittersweet. In his lifetime as a surgeon, we were just a blip on his radar, but his name, face, kindness, and compassion would stay with us forever. He would never be forgotten.
“I’ve been thinking about my post cancer life and what I want to do career wise,” Tom said as we were hanging out at home during his recovery. We had talked about this a few times during his chemo sessions, and I had a feeling I knew where this was headed.
“I think I should be a standup comedian; I’m funny,” he said with a grin on his face.
“You go right ahead. I just will have to sit in the back of the room,” I replied, with a grin right back at him.
Tom and I loved standup comedy. For my last birthday, he had gotten us tickets to see Chelsea Handler, a comedian I loved.
Her opening act was another comedian we both loved, Josh Wolf. Josh had started a bit on how ridiculous the reality show "The Bachelor" was, and that he went crazy listening to his wife complain about how he didn’t do all the nice things that the bachelor did. Now, I am a closet Bachelor fan and enjoy getting lost in someone else’s reality for a while; it’s one of the only ways I can relax. Tom would often make similar jokes to the ones Josh was making and Tom kept whispering loudly to me during his set, “That’s my bit!! That’s my bit!!”
I leaned over to him and whispered into his ear, “You’re not getting paid for this bit, so I’m pretty sure it’s his.”
As we sat there on the couch and I thought about the comedians we’ve seen and how much we enjoyed it, I encouraged Tom.
“If you want to try it, then by all means, go right ahead. I just want you to be happy. Go explore every career option.”
“Maybe I will. I’ve already got my bit list in my phone,” he said as he grabbed his phone with a smile on his face.
A bit list? I threw my head back and laughed. That was the funniest thing he had said all day – maybe Tom was funnier than I thought.