One Couple's Journey Through Cancer

Nancy Greyson Beckerman


Nancy Greyson Beckerman



It’s funny how one moment can change your life forever.  One split second and nothing will ever be the same.  Ever.

It was May.  Seattle was beautiful.  We were on vacation, enjoying Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains, visiting our daughter Sara and her new husband Richard.  We had hiked in the mountains, strolled by the falls at Snoqualmie, relaxed by the shore of the lake, and ridden the Washington State ferries.  We had discovered a nature preserve in Kirkland, just outside Seattle, where we found eagles nesting, along with big turtles sunning on logs.  With one more day left before flying home to New York, we had had dinner at the home of an old college friend of mine who lived in a nearby town, and as we drove back to our motel the wind was fierce and it was raining hard.  The drive took about 45 minutes, and by the time we reached our destination, it was pouring.  The roads were treacherous and the trip had been stressful, especially since the area was unfamiliar to us.  We were happy to reach the comfort of the motel, and because it was late, got ready for bed.

“Nan, look at this!”  My husband’s voice demanded my attention.   “Look at this.”  Three little words.  The tone of his voice was chilling.  I looked at his leg.  There was a bump on Barry’s inner thigh about the size of half an orange.  Out of the blue.  It was big.  It was hard.   My heart sank, and I froze.  Whatever this was, it was terrifying.  How had this happened?  How could something like this appear so suddenly?

This was the moment of change; nothing would ever be the same again.  We were not invulnerable.  What had caused this huge lump to appear so suddenly in the leg of a normal, healthy, physically active man in the prime of his life?

Thoughts flooded my mind; what should we do?  Book the next flight home?  But it was Memorial Day weekend, and we probably couldn’t reach our doctors anyway.  If we stayed in Seattle for the last day of our vacation, we would get home as the holiday weekend ended, and could call our doctors immediately.  Or should we call them right now?  I tried to remain calm, knowing that we had an emergency on our hands.

Barry’s voice broke through my thoughts, telling me that he thought he had pulled a muscle in his leg a week or so ago while swimming, which we did almost every day.  He thought he remembered being too vigorous one morning, possibly injuring a muscle.  It was hard to remember.  Then again, the rental car we had been driving for the past week was extremely low, and every time he had gotten in and out, he had been straining his leg.  Maybe he had injured his thigh or had torn a muscle, and perhaps it had bled, causing this mass to develop.  He was using his medical training to try to explain this alarming development.  In the end, we went to bed, fearing that we had made a terrible discovery, hoping that we were wrong.

We spent the next day with Sara and Richard, trying to enjoy our time with them, not to alarm them, but we were distracted and worried.  We returned to New York on our scheduled flight, and the next day went to work at Barry’s office and called our internist.