Sep 24 2011

13 Rainbows

Published by at 11:10 pm under An Ongoing Conversation . . .

My husband was diagnosed with fast-growth prostate cancer when in his early 50’s. The doctor took me aside and told me he probably would be dead in five years if he didn’t do something –fast!

Far too young for such a prognosis, especially since we had been married barely two years, it was a horrible jolt to even begin to contemplate such an outcome. It was like being told, “Go catch a fish before nightfall,” without being given a fishing pole or even told where the lake was, let alone where to find proper bait or the best spot to succeed.

Fortunately a friend of mine’s husband, who was much older, had undergone a procedure called Brachytherapy that was not only life saving, but allowed him to avoid the dreaded side effects of incontinence and ED. So after researching this procedure along with all other options, my husband opted for this surgery. A few months later, over Spring Break he underwent the procedure from a doctor who had pioneered the method in the U.S. and had some 7,000 surgeries to his credit.

A couple of days later as we began our long drive home across three states I tried to cheer my husband, saying that we were on Spring Brachy. He was uncomfortable and as yet unsure that his life had been spared, thus was understandably cranky and did not appreciate my humor. He was also radioactive with 150+ seeds the size of ⅛ inch pencil leads that had been placed in and around his tumor. Nightfall I told him he would probably glow in the dark –again not received as particularly funny.

And so the PSA roller-coaster ride began: drops, spikes, further drops, another spike. A year later my husband was told he needed to go to yet another surgeon for a second biopsy to find out if things were going as they should. Half the distance we traveled the first time for his surgery, we began our drive in the opposite direction through drenching rain and thunder. The only detail that seemed compensatory for such a stressful trip was that we saw six rainbows. I was exuberant! My husband, though cautiously hopeful, remained anxious and fretful.

After the dreaded exam, the following day we began to retrace our steps, again with thunderstorms and heavy rain, again with the appearance of several rainbows –five to be exact. We had collected 11 rainbows in two days! Ninety miles from home the storms began lessening, the rain dwindling, when I had a thought.

My husband and I independently like the number 13. It was his draft number (he didn’t get sent to war); I believe in abundance (the extra roll in a baker’s dozen). Our wedding anniversary is on the 13th. Wouldn’t it be wonderful –a sign even– if we saw two more rainbows before reaching home. It seemed unlikely, but I decided to watch for them.

The next rainbow we saw was double, vividly brilliant with color!

“You know what this means, don’t you?” I asked my husband who had counted each rainbow with me up and down the freeway –up and down like his PSA. “You are home SAFE! You are going to be fine. You don’t have to worry about prostate cancer anymore.”

Ten years later it has proven to be true. And when my husband is faced with other potentially life interrupting phenomenon, he has a mantra:  I am the man with 13 rainbows!

When I need it, it’s my mantra, too –I have a man’s with 13 rainbows!!

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