It is an extraordinary thing to have your life suddenly turned upside down.

In our case it happened with a phone call. One evening my significant other came into my home office and said: “I got the result of the CAT scan. I have cancer. I have mesothelioma.”

In that moment, everything changed. Our plans for the future. Our priorities in the present. Perhaps even our perspective on our 30 years together.

Suddenly nothing mattered more than dealing with this prognosis. This word I could hardly pronounce, that I was not even aware of a few days previously, began to envelop our world. In an unsettling parallel to her medical condition, the very name and notion of mesothelioma invaded daily routine.

Telling friends and relatives was distressing in itself. Bank balances? Credit card debts? Vacation time? Work projects? Forget it. All of it now rendered insignificant. Everything focused on deciding on the best course for treatment.

And when that resulted in a decision to opt for surgery at the International Mesothelioma Program in Boston, then there was a string of logistics to consider. Flights. Accommodation. Housesitter. What to pack. Preparations for surgery. The vagaries of insurance coverage.

My wife is a planner by instinct. She’s the one who, for years, would go to sleep each night scheming about bathroom remodeling and such. Me? I’d just hit the sack and lights out. Now I suspect we both have “mesothelioma” in our minds as we drift off, like it or not.

So we wait during “the phony war” between prognosis and surgery, going over things to do, diverting our thoughts and conversations whenever we can towards non-medical topics.

And, obedient to doctor’s advice, we take a walk every day – something our dogs and I have been trying to get my wife to do for years without much success. In fairness, she’s racked up the miles at work. Still, who’d have thought it would have taken this to get her out on the road?

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