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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Darryl and Julia's Love Story - Part 2

You may have already read Part I of Darryl and Julia's love story.  If not, you'll want to catch up here before you read this post.  

In this second post, Darryl tells us about having cancer and then meeting the love of his life,  Julia.  

Part II
Tell me a little bit about yourself growing up. 
I grew up in a small town in Southeastern Minnesota.  Brownsville.  Population 425.I went to a two room school in Brownsville until I was in 3rd grade. After that I went to Caledonia, and I graduated in 1991. I played football, and in fact received scholarship offers to play in collage and I chose not to.  One of the biggest regrets of my life.    
After college I became a claims adjuster for seven years. 
What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was young, I wanted to be a football player, a stunt man or a body guard.  I guess a claims adjuster was close! Ha!

Tell me about learning you had kidney cancer.

Around Christmas of 2001 (Dec 20th, I think) I started to have bilateral back pain.  By Saturday the 22nd I was urinating blood that looked like cherry cough syrup.

It took awhile for someone to figure out what I had. I was scheduled for a biopsy on January 4
th.  When the Urologist got in, he didn’t even take a biopsy because he knew it was cancer and didn’t want to disturb the tumor.  I was told my best bet was to remove the kidney and ureter so that they could get it all.  He told me that if it grew through the kidney wall, I would be done, as this type of cancer does not respond to chemo or radiation therapy.  And then he told me that he couldn’t get me in for surgery for another four weeks.  
That answer obviously didn’t work for me, so after much pushing and prodding, I was able to get in to have surgery on the 14th of January, 2002.

How long were you “sick”?

My illness was actually pretty brief in terms of what other people go through with cancer, but it was very intense.  I had some pretty serious complications while in the hospital, including being put on solids too soon (try throwing up after you have had a 13 inch incision in your stomach – painful to say the least).  They realized their mistake and took me off foods, but forgot to turn my IV back on.  I became weaker and weaker, and they could not figure out what was wrong.  After many more tests and procedures, they realized my IV had not been turned back on, so was not receiving any fluids or medication.  
It was truly the most painful thing I have ever experienced, and my recovery was difficult.  At one point, walking out of my front door to my mailbox across the street was a struggle.  I didn’t give up though, and I was walking up to four miles a day before I went back to work two months later.

What is your prognosis today? 

My prognosis is indeed A Happy Ending.  The tumor was contained in the kidney, and itt did not spread to any lymph nodes.  A person can live just fine with one kidney.  Apparently I learned that you can live a normal life with only 10% function of one kidney.  So you have 200% and can live on 10% of one! 

Darryl's scar from having a kidney removed due to cancer.

How did that experience change you?

It made me realize how fragile life is.  When you think you may die, it really makes you take a look at your life.  All the things you wish you had done differently.  Thinking about the things you may miss in the future.   It may sound obvious but that is what I did.  Once I knew I was going to be ok, I wanted changes!  I wanted to not take life for granted.
One memory that comes to mind is while being driven to one of my doctor appointments, looking out the window at the blue sky with clouds floating in the air thinking I may not see that much longer. I was devastated.

I learned who my close friends were through the process.  Many visitors and cards to the hospital and many repeat visitors daily to my house. 

My family (my parents, brother and I) became closer.  We were NOT a huggy lovey family but since this happened, we hug hello and good-bye and tell each other we love each other every time we are together.  I love that.

How did you meet Julia? 
We met through a mutual friend, and we were friends for four or five years before we started to date.

 When did you know she was the one?

Julia and I had always been close friends.  We had similar lives growing up, We had a connection very early on in our friendship. We both had similar lives so we really understood each other.

As far as when I knew she was the one, I would say our first date!  I knew she was what I was looking for. I just didn’t know if she felt the same way.  If not our first date, then our first kiss because then I knew she was really interested and I knew we were right for each other with all we had in common…the way we got along….the fun we had when we were together!

What do you love most about her? 

Her smile.  I love seeing her smile. To me that means she is happy and/or having fun.  It makes me feel so warm inside!  I feel like our relationship is a big reason for us both to smile!

I also love her personality!  She is so fun to be around.  She lights up the room whenever she walks in.  And her laugh…  You can hear it from rooms away!  I also love how kind and considerate of others she is!  She would literally give the shirt off her back for someone and then look at me with a tear in her eye and a small smile!

How did she tell you that she was pregnant?

Labor Day morning, she got up to go to the bathroom.  She came back to bed. I got up as well.  When I got back to bed, the lights were on, she was looking at me and smiling from ear to ear. I thought she wanted to make out! A typical guy, huh? 

On my side of the bed was a pregnancy test and a picture.

She had a friend take a picture of her in her uncle’s convertible, and she was holding a sign saying “baby on board”. It was awesome and we both started to cry!

What was it like when you saw Harper for the first time? 

Stay tuned for the conclusion in Part 3!  

First Steps.

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