03/10/2014 06:20 pm ET Updated May 10, 2014

Be Brave

It's the best advice a friend sent me today. To be honest, I feel like it's our only option -- be brave.

What else can you do when a doctor tells you you're dying?

We don't have time for cancer, yet we can't waste time to have surgery because we need to try and buy as much time as we can. Read that over again and try and make any sense of it.

The cancer is back.

The scan shows lymph nodes up and down Joe's aorta. His cancer marker was a zero after the big surgery in October and now it's 25. That's a big jump.

Our surgeons eyes filled as he told us what he saw. Joe choked back tears and shoved a picture of Mira in our doctor's face.

"She's beautiful," was all the surgeon could get out without falling apart right along with us.

I think I blacked out as the doctor penciled some circles on a piece of paper to show where the lymph nodes are. Joe asked about options as I held my breath trying not to make a sound as tears were streaming down my cheeks.

What do I say? How can I comfort Joe? What about Mira? How long do we have? Why is this happening? Can I work? Should we book a vacation? Is he going to be sick? Are we making the right decisions? Is there anything else? How do we tell his mom? His brother? Where will I go? How will I do this? This is not the plan. We can do this. It's going to be okay. How will it be okay? Can I keep it together? How will I afford to live? How will he die? Is it going to hurt? Why are these tissues so scratchy at the doctor's office? Did we make a mistake doing surgery? How will I raise our daughter? Who will teach Mira math?

Some questions I asked out loud, others seem to chase each other in a circle around in my head.

Chemotherapy -- the surgeon said we have to do it. It's the only choice. He said we have to at least try it. Joe asked if it ever gets rid of the cancer completely. The doctor said, "rarely."

Buying time and at what cost.

Quality vs. quantity -- a conversation we've had many times.

Joe says he doesn't want to be around long enough that Mira will know who he is. He doesn't want to hurt a 4-year-old, blue eyed girl when she loses that guy who has always been around.

I don't want that, but I love Joe for loving Mira so much he can't stand to cause her any pain.

What would you do if you knew you were dying? If you knew you were buying time?

Be brave.

This post first appeared on Cocktails and Chemo, where Amanda writes regularly.