It’s 2019 and a big year for Dave and I. My very first book launched on May 15th, Dave turns 50 in July and we celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in October. We’ve also had some unexpected celebrations in the early part of this year. At the end of January, I accepted the role of Chief Operating Officer with Kingdom Driven Entrepreneur. At the end of March, God orchestrated a move for us from Jacksonville, FL to Tallahassee, FL. In a matter of five weeks, we bought a house, sold our house and moved. It was effortless as only He can arrange.
After coming out of a season where we felt like we were in the wilderness, all these celebrations were so welcomed. We’ve been settling in nicely in our new home and community. We love being back in this part of Florida with rolling hills, huge, shady oaks trees and a slower pace than the hustle and bustle of Jax. This move was a bit of a downsize for us, smaller house, smaller yard, less stuff and a smaller city where we can start to connect with the community.
I had the house unpacked and everything in its place within two weeks of moving (no I’m not bragging that is just how we reduced everything). Before we moved, I began doing research online for a new church home so I already found a few churches we wanted to visit. We attended two different churches and we ended up going back the first church. The pastor delivered his message and he was so raw, open, and real. After the service was over, David went up and hugged him, which this is totally out of character for Dave. He doesn’t just go up and hug anyone. I knew then that this would be our church home.
Everything was flowing so nicely accept for one thing. Dave wasn’t himself. I started noticing something was going on with him in December and every time I would ask him if he was okay, he would respond he was fine. I would then drop it because if he is fine, then he must be fine. However, I couldn’t turn off my wifey spidey sense. It wasn’t a constant attitude but as time progressed he seemed more and more irritated or worried. I couldn’t tell which.
When the move approached in March, he was so short and snippy with me. We argued several times during the move, which is really out of the ordinary for us. One other indicator that something was up was he and I would always have amazing conversations. With all these exciting changes, I would have expected amazing conversations of what we would do in our new city. Those conversations didn’t happen and conversations in general came to a halt. He wouldn’t even speak words to me. I would ask him something and I would get grunts like something Tim Allen would do on Tool Time. I would continue to ask him did he feel well, was something bothering him, was he tired of me? I would even ask questions in my head but didn’t want to ask like was he cheating on me?
With all that had happened and my pending book launch coming, I just pushed this aside and chalked it up to the emotions of such a change. Afterall, Dave does not like change. He is a creature of habit. May 15th came and my book launched. Nothing earth shattering but an exciting day. We celebrated by having one of my really good friends come over for dinner. After the launch was over, God gave me the idea of doing a virtual book signing so exactly one week after the launch, I held a virtual book signing on Facebook and Instagram. I had the best time sharing the process of writing, the message God was sharing and connecting with so many people who supported me. I was riding a wave of feeling so loved and connected.
The day after the virtual book signing, I had an eye doctor appointment and Dave accompanied me as we do everything together. Plus, he wanted to get to know the doctor since he would be the eye doctor for both of us. On the ride to the doctor, Dave was barely saying two words to me. He seemed so distracted and preoccupied. I decided once again to ask him questions to get to the root of this. Now I’d had enough of this.
“Are you upset with me?” I asked.
“Mm-m,” he responded.
“Are you not happy that we moved?”
“I love living here. I’m so glad we moved”
“Are you feeling okay?”
A long pause. There it was. Something was going on with his health.
“I have a bump in my mouth,” he slowly said.
“Okay. And you’re worried it is cancer aren’t you?” I asked.
We proceeded to my doctor appointment and I tried not to focus or become worried. He’s probably overreacting I thought to myself. Once the appointment was over, we headed home. As soon as we walked in the door, I grabbed a flashlight and made him open his mouth so I could see what he was worried about. It’s probably nothing I told myself.
As he opened his mouth and I shone the light, I saw this huge mass of tissue in his mouth that looked like a giant mouth ulcer. It was so large I couldn’t tell where his tongue ended and the sore began. My heart sunk to my knees and a wave of panic and fear hit me.
“Why and how have you been hiding this from me?” I eked out trying to hold back tears.
“I didn’t want to worry you. We had so many fun things going on and I didn’t want to ruin them.”
“Oh baby,” as I grabbed him to hug him. “Don’t hide things from me. We are better together not separate, which is what the devil wants.”
“I know. I was trying to protect you.”
He shared with me how it started as a small bump in his mouth that he thought was an ulcer but it never would heal. Within the last two weeks before he told me, it grew dramatically and he knew he wasn’t going to be able to hide it any longer. He has been dealing with the worry and fear for months and hasn’t been sleeping. It all started making sense, his behavior, health things I noticed. All those little things you say, hum to and file in the back of your mind.
I had no idea what to do next. Since it was in the mouth my instinct was to call a dentist to get an appointment. Luckily I had found a dentist and was already in their system for an upcoming appointment. I had to wait until September for my appointment so I wasn’t sure if they could get Dave in but I had to start somewhere. I contacted them and explained the situation. They gave Dave an appointment the next day.
We visited the dentist and they took x-rays, photos and consulted. They were very concerned and said we needed to see an oral surgeon. They happened to be next door to one and we were able to get an appointment with them the following week.
The time between the dentist appointment and the upcoming appointment with the oral surgeon was from Friday to Wednesday. Those six days were to most torturous days of our lives that we’ve experienced. Our minds were going to cancer, which equals death. How can I go from such an amazing year of special celebrations to now facing the possibility of losing my husband? My mind couldn’t make sense of this but it was working in overdrive trying to.
The day for the appointment with the oral surgeon came and I was an emotional basket case but trying to stay strong for Dave. He was so scared and worried he was going to lose his tongue much less his life. They decided to do a biopsy of Dave’s tongue and were pretty confident it was cancer. The surgeon began to explain it wasn’t going to be an easy road.
I had to leave the room while they took the biopsy so I went out to the waiting room. I couldn’t stay as the tears were welling up in my eyes. I went out to the car and unleashed a furry of sobs and cries out to God. I’d never felt so helpless in all my life. I wanted to fix this for Dave and take it away.
I knew I had to get this crying and despair out now so that when they were done with David, I could be strong. Once I could compose myself, I went back in to the waiting room. The surgeon came out to speak with me and began sharing that this is really serious and he is going to order a quick turn around on the biopsy.
“Mrs. Robertson, this isn’t going to be easy. This is going to be a long road and life altering for Mr. Robertson. I just want to prepare you,” the doctor shared.
I could feel the tears welling up again and then I got angry that he was doing this to me as I needed to compose myself. I didn’t want Dave to see me like this and have him worry even more.
Then I did the thing no one wants to ask but you are fixated on. “Can he die from this?” I instantly regretted letting those words leave my mouth.
“Yes he can.”
That was it, I could no longer hold back the tears. They came pouring out. No consoling from him or comforting words. He just sat there. He left me in the waiting room so he could finish up with Dave and send him out. I was able to dry my eyes and then they escorted Dave out. We left and went home to wait for the results. More waiting.
We didn’t have to wait long thankfully but needless to say neither of us slept that night. Dave fearing he would lose his tongue and possibly lose his life and my fear of losing him. The next morning the phone rang and it was the surgeon’s office. The results were back and they wanted us to come in to the office. I could tell on the phone that it wasn’t going to be good as the nurse’s voice had a sympathetic tone.
We arrived at the doctor’s office and walked in to the room to wait for the doctor. He sits down and pulls up the report and tells us it is cancer. I managed to hold it together as he proceeds to share with us the possibility of what might have to be done, which is the possibility of Dave losing his tongue. Dave blurts out in bewilderment, “What I feared the most is happening. I’m gonna lose my tongue.”
Because of the severity of Dave’s tumor, they referred us to Shands hospital and wait for it, located in Jacksonville, FL, you know where we just moved from.
This post is starting to get long so I am going to wrap this entry but I will write more details in upcoming posts. A lot more has happened since. We are on this cancer journey, which what I’m learning doesn’t always equal death. It is hard though to see someone you love in so much pain and fear and I know, we aren’t going through this alone. God has been holding our hand and guiding us all along. We are taking it one step at a time, which is where He wants us to reside. I’m so excited to see what God has already done and what He is going to do. I’ll share this journey with you in hopes to encourage others who might be facing something similar.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10