Words have tempers you know…

March 31, 2012

Aloha again from the long-lost blogger.  Could I be any worse at this?  I’m afraid that although I am very busy, it is only out of pure laziness that I do not update this thing more.  I had grand notions of having a sort of diary for the electronic age…being able to look back at my blog posts as snapshots of time throughout my life, but I fear that bloggy ship has sailed.

 

I wrote so long ago that it makes it nearly impossible to update everyone on the goings-on of the Caldwells.  Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s came and went.  We had wonderful holidays together and have had some good friends come to the islands to visit us this year!

 

I started grad school at the University of Hawai`i (UH) last fall and have L-O-V-E-D it!  I am studying social work and women’s studies and feeling so grateful that I get the opportunity to pursue my Master’s degree.  I got a job in the Women’s Studies Department as a research assistant for two professors, Meda Chesney-Lind and Susan Hippensteele.  They are both unbelievably accomplished, brilliant women that inspire and challenge me.  I have learned so much from these two and continue to be amazed by their intelligence, accomplishments and determination.  I am convinced that they never sleep and are secretly some kind of nocturnal feminist-bots that constantly attack idiocy with brilliance. 🙂

I have enjoyed the social work program as well, but there is no doubt that women’s studies is where I belong.  I find it far more academic and challenging, but pursuing a master’s in WS is not possible yet at UH, unfortunately.  That’s something we are trying to change but it will likely take several years.  This saddens me since I have so much passion for gender studies, but I also know that I am, and forever will be, a social worker at heart.  I will always try to fight to ease the burdens of the marginalized and oppressed.  It’s for this reason that I’ve chosen to combine these two fields of study for my degree.

 

Grad school is stimulating, stressful, and keeps me busy!  I’ve met wonderful people and made awesome new friendships along the way.  There’s nothing like heading to Manoa Gardens (the bar on campus) for a few beers and some rigorous post-class discussion with a smart and diverse group who are so willing to listen, learn, and grow.

What else?  I began training (AGAIN) for my 3rd marathon, as I was knocked out of training for the Maui last year due to a back injury.  As luck (or curse) would have it, I again found myself injured near the end of my training.  I fractured the 3 middle toes on my right foot.  This is a very odd running injury and I’m not sure how I managed it.  I was really, REALLY disappointed to be knocked out of marathon #3 yet again.  I am supposed to take at least 4-6 weeks off of running, which has been terribly hard.  I’ve come to realize that running is not only a way for me to stay in shape – it actually keeps me sane.  Without it, I am a more easily stressed, moody, monster-type version of myself!  ha!  The doc recommended “aqua running” as a means to try and keep up my training, so that’s what I have been doing on a daily basis.

 

I have to wear a flotation device that enables me to simulate running in the pool.  Luckily, my building has a pool that is often unused so I can do this rather embarrassing exercise without much ridicule.  😛  I hope it’s helping me to maintain some of my strength, but only time will tell!

 

I’ve been on a much-welcomed spring break this past week and have enjoyed every second!  Without work or school I have been able to play guitar, sleep in, read for pleasure, and beach it up with some wonderful friends.  It’s been lovely and I am not quite ready to return to the madness!

 

Joe has been working hard and playing hard, which is of course part of why I love him.  🙂  His project at work is tremendously large and stressful, but my babe handles it like a pro!  We’ve both been cooking more this year, in an effort to eat more healthfully and eat a clean, unprocessed diet.  Neither one of us particularly enjoys cooking, but it’s something for us to do together on a nightly basis.  I would attempt to update you more on Joey’s goings-on, but he’s been preoccupied with what I’ll explain below:

 

Now, onto the real reason for this post.  Many friends have noticed that Joe and I have been missing several parties, birthdays, and gatherings.  I wanted to share why.  It hasn’t been an easy year for the Caldwells so far.  A little over 2 months ago, Joe was diagnosed with cancer.  Papillary thyroid cancer, to be exact.  For several months, Joe hasn’t been feeling like himself; tired, lethargic, low appetite…we both chalked it up to work stress until he discovered a rather large lump in his neck.  He was then biopsied and diagnosed.  Unfortunately, the doctor called him on a Friday afternoon to inform  him that he had cancer, but they did not know what type (of thyroid cancer) or what stage and he couldn’t see a specialist until the following Tuesday.  REALLY nice, doc.  That was a super fun weekend.  He came to my office that day to tell me the news.  No matter what, you are simply never prepared to hear your healthy, 32 year old husband tell you he has cancer.  Talk about a word having a temper.  We were both scared and freaked out and spent the entire weekend holed up together…trying to research this disease and  calm each other down.

 

As it turns out, if you are going to get cancer, thyroid cancer is a good cancer to have (if you can ever describe cancer as good).  Joe’s oncologist even referred to it as “the Cadillac of cancers.”  We soon found out that he has papillary thyroid cancer, which is the most common and the most treatable.  They guesstimate him to be in stage II, but will not know for certain until he has surgery.  They want to do a complete thyroidectomy, removing the entire gland.  That surgery is scheduled for April 12th.  After he heals, he will have to complete a round of radioactive iodine therapy, which is literally a treatment that makes him radioactive.  I am not even allowed to be in the same room with him longer than 8 minutes and we will have to saran wrap most things in our apartment: his toothbrush, doorknobs, the toilet, etc.  CRAZY.  It frightens me that if it’s dangerous for me to be around him for more than 8 minutes at a time, what is this treatment doing to his body???  The purpose is to remove or kill any remaining cancerous cells that they are not able to get during the surgery.

 

While thyroid cancer is a common cancer, it is not typically common for men, particularly white men.  It is most common in Asian women, as a matter of fact.  Being that we live in Hawai`i, where the Asian population is over 60%, we are at an advantage, as the doctors here have dealt with this cancer on a regular basis and are very confident in the treatments.  The doctors are only concerned for Joe because 1) he is male 2) he is white 3) his cancer appeared suddenly and his tumor is rather large.  But we (and they) are very hopeful that he will make a full recovery.  We feel very grateful that every piece of news we’ve received thus far has been the best we could wish for.

 

This has obviously been a scary and stressful time for us, but I am hugely proud of my Joe.  Those of you that know him well, know that he is quite introverted and a very private person (whereas I am clearly, the opposite).  I feared he wouldn’t want to tell anyone about this and might try to keep it very quiet, but he has surprised me.  From the very beginning he has been incredibly open with me, family and friends.  I talked to him about this blog post, asking if he was comfortable with me talking about it openly and he simply responded, “Why? It’s not a secret…it’s nothing to be ashamed of…tell whomever!”  🙂  I think it’s healthy and wonderful that he’s seeking support.  In addition to his openness, his sense of humor is definitely intact.  When I ask him to do his dishes or switch out the laundry while I am in class or at work, he looks at me with those big blue puppy dog eyes and says, “Katie I can’t…I have cancer, you know.” 😛  It may sound a little dark in writing, but it cracks us up every time and what else can you do in these situations but find the humor?

 

 Soooo…that’s the news.  We appreciate prayers, healthy healing vibes and powerful, positive thoughts!  I truly believe that Joe will recover and hope that after all of his medical treatments, he will be more energetic and happier and healthier in the long run.  I just feel sorry for what he’ll have to go through to get there.  But I know we have amazing friends here in Hawai`i who have been incredibly wonderful and supportive thus far.  Combined with fabulous family and friends from home and around the country, I am certain we will make it through this with love.  Thanks to all that have called, offered to help, and just listened when we both needed it.  We love you and appreciate you more than we can ever say.  Mahalo.

4 Responses to “Words have tempers you know…”

  1. Dado said

    Greetings from our small body of water (lake) to your vast ocean. I am glad you wrote about Joe’s condition and treatments. You are strong as a couple and will confiently walk through this trial. We love you both and keep us up to date.

    Daddo and denise,

    Like

  2. Josette said

    Hey Katie…so sorry to hear about the news with Joe! But I also wish him a speedy recovery and for you as well!!
    My brother is just finishing chemo with testicular cancer and he’s only 26!!! So I totally understand what this is like for you…especially after our Moms..

    Be strong girl, and Joe be strong too! And i’ll send all my love and prayers and good wishes that I can for you both!!!!

    As my Grandmother would say…it will all come out in the wash, and then you’ll be laughing!!!

    Like

  3. natalie lutz said

    Wow. If any couple can handle this, you two can! You guys are a real life love story and an inspiration to us all. I will keep you and Joe in my prayers. Now Joey will have one of those conversation starter scars 😉 Tell him to come up with something crazy and adventurous (like wrestling a bear or something) 🙂

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  4. David Wells said

    Jeez, Kate! What an incredibly stressful time for you both! I absolutely hate it that Joe (and you) have to go through this, but I am greatly encouraged by the prognosis you wrote about. Poor Joe, he’s going to be the boy in the plastic bubble for a bit! As everyone else has said (because really, what else can we do??)) my thoughts and prayers are with you both, and I certainly wish Joe a quick and speedy recovery.

    I’m thrilled that the two of you are handling this with humor and compassion for each other, as I have no doubt that there are both good and bad days for each of you. Together as partners, you can (and will!) get through this. I guess if there is a bright side (or at least a “not so dark side”), it would be that if nothing else Joe gets to recover in paradise rather than in sweaty, humid kentucky! He should milk that time off for all he’s worth!

    Please keep us posted on how things go, and give Joe a hug for me!

    Love you both,
    David

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