How did this happen? One minute my wife, Kim, was happily planting flowers in containers in front of the house. The next, she was bursting through the door and into the kitchen sweating, agitated, eyes wide open with fear.

“Do you see these colors?”

I looked around and quickly realized she was seeing things I didn’t.

“Tell me what you see, honey.”

“I’m seeing colors and lights flashing everywhere!” She paused then looked at me in pained disbelief. “You’re not seeing them?”

Just as suddenly, Kim’s face contorted in agony as she was struck by a splitting headache.

St. Joe’s ER is five minutes from our home, but with my mind racing the drive took forever.

That was Memorial Day 2012, the beginning of a long, difficult, and disquieting journey that continues to this day.

In the ER, a CAT scan revealed little, and the attending physician offered a diagnosis of a migraine with complications. But as weeks passed and Kim’s symptoms worsened, an MRI was ordered.

The MRI revealed a tumor in Kim’s brain. The radiology report identified it as a meningioma, a benign brain tumor that was pressing on her occipital lobe, the visual processing center.

Even a benign brain tumor was terrifying. Research gave me comfort: most meningiomas grow slowly, have no symptoms, and are not life-threatening. But Kim’s visual disturbances and debilitating headaches continued daily.

We finally made the difficult decision: the tumor needed to be removed. After meeting with several neurosurgeons, we chose Ghaus Malik of the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center at Henry Ford Hospital.

Kim went into surgery on November 13, 2012. Eight hours later, an exhausted Dr. Malik came out to talk with us (our daughters, Amelia and Caroline, and friends were with me). He told us the tumor had been removed. But it was not a meningioma; it was a malignant tumor, later identified as a glioblastoma (GBM).

As it sank in that my wife of more than thirty years had brain cancer, waves of grief washed over me and my tears flowed like water. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, “The median survival for adults is about two to three years. A 2009 study reported that almost 10% of patients with glioblastoma may live five years or longer.”

Our neuro-oncologist, Tom Mikkelsen, explained that the prognosis of each patient is based on factors including age, gender, overall health, location of tumor, and support network. Kim had a lot of those factors in her favor.

Kim is one of the strongest people I know. She was a committed long-distance runner, a sport she took up in her forties, and she brought the same resolve and determination to her fight with cancer. She told her doctors to do anything they needed to do; she could handle it. The post-surgical treatment was grueling: thirty days of radiation and eighteen months of chemotherapy.

But she eventually returned to work. This year she begins her twentieth year of teaching in the Northville public schools. We’ve discussed retirement, but she loves to teach, and the work is therapeutic. The needs and demands of twenty-four second-graders will take your mind off anything, even brain cancer.

At Moraine Elementary School at Halloween, the children parade through the hallways in full costume to the delight of their teary-eyed parents, who capture every precious moment with their smartphones.

Kim revels in the fun. Over the years, she has dressed up as Harry Potter, Amelia Earhart, and Rosie the Riveter. Last year, I suggested she dress up as Superwoman in honor of her heroic battle with cancer. She liked the idea.

On a Saturday morning last October, we went to the temporary Halloween store in the old Kmart on Maple. We found a Superwoman dress emblazoned with the classic red S, long red gloves, and red-and-blue knee-high stockings designed to look like lace-up boots. All we needed was a cape.

A Google search led me to Power Capes, which manufactures and ships capes around the world from a nondescript industrial park in Livonia. Who knew? I went there and bought a long, bright red cape, the perfect flourish for the costume.

Kim led her second-grade class in the parade with a big smile. “It’s more than a costume, it’s a statement,” she told an admiring parent.

Sadly, the tumor recurred this past February. Ninety-five percent of it was removed with a new surgical procedure, an MRI-guided laser ablation. A difficult recovery and six months of chemotherapy have followed.

Brain surgery has consequences. Kim’s vision on the left side is compromised; vision therapy has helped. The psychological and emotional challenges are more nuanced. The threat that cancer poses is an unrelenting burden. Dozens of friends make up Team Kim, and their support has been indispensable. I help by listening, loving, and understanding.

The cancerous cells in Kim’s brain are currently below the level of detection, but, like bubbling hot magma lying just below the surface, are liable to erupt at any minute. Every two months Kim gets an MRI, and we wait anxiously for each report. September’s showed continuous improvement and no new sign of growth.

Our future is uncertain as we live with an altered normal. Well-intentioned friends say nobody is promised tomorrow. But when you’re living with a brain tumor, the threat of death is more visceral and present.

Everyone at Moraine is getting excited about Halloween this year. Kim plans to wear her Superwoman costume again with her red cape flowing. She will be smiling even bigger, savoring the fun of another parade. I’ll be there too, teary-eyed, to capture every precious moment with my smartphone.