In June 2010, my wife Gaby was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 35 years old.
It was a sunny, summer day in Denver. I was sitting in mass. Right after she found the lump and went for a biopsy, I began attending mass daily. I was working in downtown Denver, and the church was a couple of blocks from my building. Our prayer activity went into high gear, as it usually does when we’re faced with potentially bad news.
I think I was listening to the homily when I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. The butterflies in my stomach sprang to life as I stood up and rushed out the back of the church. I was expecting her to call at any time with the biopsy results. I answered just as I pushed the door to go outside. I knew as soon as I heard Gaby’s voice that our prayers were not answered; or at least, not in the way we wanted them to be answered.
I remember bits and pieces of the next few hours. I remember getting on the train to go back toward our house. I remember calling my parents. I remember starting to cry with my dad on the phone. And, I remember his words, “It’s ok, it’s not the end of the world.” Though his words may seem insensitive as I write them on the page, they were actually very comforting and reassuring. Dad would never lie to me.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I know he was right. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, so my dad knew where of he spoke.
It wasn’t the end of our world.
The end would come two years later, in July of 2012, when our then 17-month old daughter, Adriana, was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Type II. She had not yet walked. She was crawling and cruising around furniture, but she started to struggle with even that. Initially, we simply told ourselves that she was slow in that area and would walk any day now.
But it seemed with every doctor visit, our pediatrician’s face grew more concerned. Gaby and I both saw it. He ordered testing; an MRI, a muscle scan, blood tests. My wife received a call that the neurologist at Children’s Hospital wanted us to come in the next day. Gaby was hysterical, and my stomach ached, trying to imagine what could be wrong.
At Gaby’s insistence – and she can be pretty insistent – we went to see the neurologist that day, and that’s when they gave us the news.
“Adriana may stand. She may be able to take a few steps. But, she will likely never walk.”
Gaby cried hard; I sat silent, holding Adriana, trying to listen to the doctor.
Our lives would never be the same…………just like when Gaby was diagnosed with breast cancer.
And just like with the cancer, our world had ended.
But of course, it didn’t.
And as I sit here in our apartment in Lima, Peru, having moved here three months ago, I begin to write about our life – our world – and how it changed that July day. And how it continues, one step at a time, one achievement and one failure at a time……..as we seek a better life for our children, and for us, in a way different than we had anticipated when we started our family.
I join the millions of other blogs flying through Al Gore’s stratosphere hoping our children will one day read this blog and be proud of their parents and understand that we love them with every fiber of our being. That we tried – and continue to try – to make the right decisions.
Although this maiden blog may seem somber (because it is), I have ALL our emotions to share. And, assuming I can acquire some sort of writing talent soon, you’ll be able to see that we as a family experience joy, heartbreak, love, hate, anger (a lot of it), jealousy, fear……and hope; just like we did before Adriana’s SMA and Gaby’s cancer diagnoses.
I don’t know how often I’ll write; my goal is once a week. But between work, helping Gaby with the kids (the hard work) and looking for a new job once my current employment ends, I don’t know if I’ll meet that goal.
I’ll do my best.
As I’ve learned, life continues after the world ends.
Talk to you soon!