Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Vintage Fridays: Brooks Robinson, 1969 Topps Deckle Edge #1

Brooks Robinson, as you may know, was successfully treated for prostate cancer back in 2009. I can't for the life of me find an easy segue to tonight's blog post, so I'll just get on with it.

My wife is 25 weeks pregnant, and two weeks ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

If that sentence hit you like a punch in the gut, you have some small idea of how we felt when the hospital called with the biopsy results. We were in Charlotte at the time, so we could attend the visitation and funeral for Janet's grandmother, a remarkable woman who had just passed away after 96 years well lived. (The first week of March 2016 will not be making our favorites list, to say the least.) I've been wrestling with so many conflicting emotions over the past couple of weeks, so please indulge me as I spill everything out through my keyboard.
  • I'm relieved that Janet's cancer treatment doesn't carry any risk of harm for our unborn baby. On the back end of the second trimester, the fetus has done most of its crucial development and is mostly just adding weight and length from now until it reaches full term. Janet will be undergoing chemotherapy up until delivery, and the drugs are unable to pass through the placenta. In the early going, focusing on the development of our child has helped us both to stay sane in the face of our new struggle. We've spent good chunks of each day just sitting or lying together and feeling the kid's kicks and movements.
  • I was bewildered by the diagnosis. The only cases of breast cancer in Janet's family are two generations removed - a great aunt and second cousins, all of whom were decades older than she is now. As the cherry on top of this crap sundae, so-called gestational breast cancer is diagnosed in just one of every 3,000 pregnant women. As Janet said to her OB, that's like buying a lottery ticket and finding out that you owe the lottery commission more money.
  • I'm furious that my wife has to endure this. Less than a year ago we suffered the heartbreak of a miscarriage, we walked on eggshells through the first trimester of this second pregnancy, and now that we've gotten a strong bill of health for the baby, there's a whole new set of difficulties. She's probably going to spend the coming weeks dealing with nausea and exhaustion, and is already worried about losing her hair from the chemo. After the kid is here, Janet isn't sure if she'll have the strength and/or energy to do the simplest of things, like lifting and carrying the car seat. Breastfeeding may very well out of the question, and that by itself has been a big emotional blow for her. She will have a lumpectomy just a few months after giving birth, and will undergo radiation treatment afterward. How much hardship can be dumped upon one person, especially one as giving and kind and compassionate as Janet?  This is probably a good time to mention that "God has a plan" is possibly the absolute WORST thing to say to somebody in this situation. Even if you mean well, you should know that it's okay to just say nothing, rather than to suggest that God doles out cancers and accidents and such just so we'll have obstacles to overcome.
  • I am grateful that Janet is in very capable hands. She's undergoing treatment at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, which has become our go-to for medical care. Janet's primary care, asthma and allergy, OB/GYN, and cancer treatment are all at GBMC. We've never had a bad experience there, and all of the doctors, nurses, and administrative staff are incredibly knowledgeable and compassionate. The breast surgeon spent an hour and a half meeting with us, and the oncologist gave us even more of his time. The cancer team at GBMC has gone above and beyond to help us understand why they're treating the disease the way that they are, and to make sure that we're completely comfortable with everything.
  • I'm worried. "Cancer" is such a loaded word, and it's hard not to obsess over worst-case scenarios. I'll just leave it at that.
  • Most of all, I am thankful that we have such an incredible support system. In a short amount of time, Janet and I have been overwhelmed with offers of help from family members, friends, coworkers, members of our church...prayers, thoughts, well-wishes, good vibes, and the like are all appreciated. But our friends and loved ones have also come forward with food, personal care items, gifts, and most importantly, their time. We are very lucky to know so many generous and warm people. I know that we wouldn't be able to face this challenge alone, and I'm glad that we don't have to do that.
As I finish this entry late on Friday night, Janet has completed the first of 16 chemotherapy sessions. She's doing well, though we've been led to believe that the side effects won't crop up for a day or two. But just getting started with the treatment plan is important to both of us. We sat in the infusion center for four hours today while she received those all-important cancer-killing drugs via IV, and it assuaged the fear of the unknown. As I keep telling Janet, we've got this.


shoeboxlegends said...

Though we've never met, I feel compelled to comment since I was with my wife through her bout with cancer in her late 20s. It was scary, there were multiple surgeries and she'll have some significant changes to her daily routine for the rest of her life, but she made it through with a clean bill of health in the end, and has been cancer free for over 5 years now. I will certainly keep you, your wife, and your child in my thoughts Kevin.

Alan Diddle said...

My heart and prayers go with you and Janet on this saga Kevin. It may be hard but keep your spirits up we are all at your side


Robert Lins said...

Prayers and compassion.

Robert Lins said...

Prayers and compassion.

Zach said...


Reading your post this morning really hit hard. I could tell a couple weeks ago that something was wrong, but I didn’t think it was something of this magnitude. I’m so incredibly sorry to hear that the three of you have to go through this. Even though we’ve never met, I know you and your wife are great people (it’s easy to tell) and this kind of news is, in a lot of ways, infuriating. Bad things are supposed to happen to jerks—not nice people. Either way, I have some thoughts I want to share.

First, don’t be afraid to be “selfish” right now. What I mean by this is you, Janet, and Lil’ Brotzman should do whatever is best for you, and you shouldn’t spend a minute worrying about whether or not other people agree with or understand your decisions. As you’ve probably already encountered, a lot of people will want to do things for you and your family (“Come over for dinner Thursday night!” or “Can I stop by this weekend?”). Maybe you and Janet want to spend time together Thursday night, or maybe Janet isn’t up to having visitors over the weekend? Whatever the case, if you and Janet don’t want to partake in get-togethers and events—or aren’t physically up to doing those things—say so, and don’t feel bad about saying no. The most important thing is that you do whatever makes you happy and keeps you sane. The rest of the world gets it.

Next, if you need anything, ask. If you want time off from work to be with Janet, ask your manager for it. If you need someone to pick up dinner for you, ask your neighbors or friends. If there’s anything me or any of your readers can do to help, let us know. Thanks to the wonders of the internets and shipping services, distance really isn’t a thing.

Lastly, I completely get where you’re coming from with the “God’s plan” spiel. For some people, chalking things up to “God’s plan” puts them at ease because they like the idea that there’s someone dictating the future from a control room somewhere. After all, the notion that the universe is a chaotic sequence of unpredictable events is a scary concept. But, the moment someone assigns an outcome to a supernatural plan, they forfeit their free will and make themselves a static vessel.

The reality is humans are anything but ancillary players; we have the ability to put into motion the conditions that will bring about the outcomes we want. In your situation, you and Janet have the opportunity to seek the appropriate treatments (which you’re doing), provide each other strength to overcome the pain (which you’re doing), and stay positive (which you’re doing). Because of that, you guys will beat cancer. That’s not a wish, but rather a statement.

Rounding Thirty 3rd said...

Kevin, my heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to you, Janet, and your baby.

I don't want to discount your hardship, or try and "one-up" you, but rather share this as encouragement for your struggles. When my wife was pregnant with our youngest daughter she ended up getting very ill. Quite literally, my daughter almost killed her. The doctors decided it was best to do a c-section 4 weeks early. My wife had several surgeries after the birth, and my little "preemie" even came home from the hospital weeks before her mother.

Nothing comes easy, but just a few weeks ago my 6' tall "baby" finished her high school basketball career as the school's all-time leading scorer, and in just over 2 months her mother and I will be watching her graduate. Stay strong, Kevin, and make sure to enjoy and appreciate all the moments.

vto said...

Praying for you and your wife - I don't have any other words.