Life was full and happy. Two healthy kids, boy first, then a girl, beautiful house in a great neighborhood, two cats, a dog and a bounty of jobs coming in. Things were great, really great. Then, with four spoken words, everything changed.
My name is Leryn Davis. I am a widowed mother of two. Stomach cancer took my husband Travis' life seven years ago.
We were a young couple with two small children, our son Race only 7 and daughter Haven barely 5. We had just moved into our dream home and Travis' career as an actor was thriving. Life was great. Then it wasn't. Travis fought hard but in the end, lost the battle.
It was July 2008 when we first heard those fateful words.
"You have a tumor."
Travis was just coming off the drugs from the endoscopy and laughed when the doctor said them. He thought it was a joke. He'd already been told anything serious like a tumor had been ruled out by the CAT scan he'd previously had.
"No, you have a tumor," the doctor said with pain in his eyes.
It was a sobering moment. Complete silence filled the room. We were in utter shock. Wait . . . what?
We left the office with our heads in a fog. In the car, silence.Then he spoke.
"Well, at least now I know I'm not crazy. I was beginning to think maybe it was all in my head."
Then it was my turn. I felt horrible. I was part of the reason he was saying this. I, like the doctors, had been feeling like maybe he was overreacting. He didn't handle sickness well and they had, up until now, found nothing to explain the pain and discomfort in his stomach he'd been complaining of. Tears streamed down my cheeks.
"I'm so sorry baby! I'm so, so sorry I didn't believe you. I can't believe this is happening."
It was a Thursday and we'd have to wait through the weekend for lab results. I was determined to hold out hope that the tumor was benign. Travis and his Mom were all over the internet, finding only negative possibilities. I was angry. I wanted them to trust with me, that everything would be ok. They couldn't – wouldn't – and when the call finally came on Tuesday I struggled not to blame them. It was malignant. It was cancer. Stomach cancer.
There it was this giant, wicked thing hanging over our happy life like a huge black funnel cloud, looming, waiting to take everything and shatter it into tiny, unrecognizable pieces.
When contemplating writing for Hope for Stomach Cancer, I worried that my story, Travis' story, might frighten others because it didn't end the way we would have liked. I hesitated to reach out. Then I realized – his story is not your story.
My hope is that our story may help and encourage you. Help you to know that you are not alone, to treasure each moment, to think of things you need to take care of, to know how to ask for help and what you might ask for, and most importantly, to give hope, love and support.
It is not an easy path you're on. There are hard questions that need to be asked and answered and huge challenges to be faced. You are stronger than you think and you do not have to walk this path alone.
About the Author Leryn Davis is a freelance writer and widowed mother of two teenage children. Stomach cancer took her husband Travis' life. Leryn hopes that sharing her experiences as a caregiver and the journey through Travis' battle and loss, she can encourage and support others. Leryn is also a public speaker and has spoken to groups on the importance of palliative care. She also enjoys writing poetry, painting and volunteering at Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund's retirement community and AdoptABunnyRabit.org.