July 8, 2004 -- is when Jane’s hysterectomy occurred. I had incorrectly remembered it as being after the first round of cancer. There’s a bit more information in my diary entry the following week.
It’s interesting to note that neither of us used the word hysterectomy: we simply said she was going in for surgery for the fibroids. That is, in its way, pretty typical -- put the bravest face on what’s going on, and make it as normal as possible. It was part of how Jane kept herself whole through all of this: the stiff upper lip was as much for herself as for everyone else.
Back to chronological order:
April 21 2006 -- Jane’s mother dies. Although she never spoke of it much, Jane was conscious of how few people came. I like to think that one of the things I did right by her was arranging her funeral so that the hordes could make it. She didn’t want people to know she was dying, but I think she would have appreciated how many people cared about her enough to be there.
July 2006 -- I don’t think I know exactly when we found out that Jane had an actual tumor; I don’t seem to have written it down. Unlike 2010, the 2006 round started quietly: a classic case of noticing a “lump”. The whole thing was a bit surreal, especially given the year we’d already been having. I focused on being supportive of her, but the sense of disconnection from reality got *very* strong sometimes.
There was some back-and-forth discussion about treatment. Jane was reluctant to do chemo, because she knew how hard it would be, but surgery without chemo is a crapshoot at best. Eventually, her oncologist Dr. Block (who was, blessedly, skilled, compassionate and businesslike in just the right ways) convinced her that it was necessary in order to have decent odds. Reading us properly, she did that with numbers: a nice simple chart showing the odds of long-term survival with and without chemo. Fuzziness never worked for us, but hard statistics usually did.
(A hard lesson, clearer in retrospect. When the tumor on her brain was discovered in 2010, one of the doctors tried to hard-sell her into immediate radiation, and that went predictably poorly: neither of us has ever liked feeling bullied, especially over something as dangerous-sounding as irradiating one’s brain. When she *did* go in for radiation -- after much of the damage had been done -- it was because her radiologist presented her with nice concrete statistics about the risks, which helped us understand that they were non-trivial but manageable. I still suspect that, if the first doctor had done the same, she might have gone for it immediately and lived an extra year or two.)