In one of my initial posts, I discussed the subject of love and marriage, in sickness and in health. My concern during that phase in my diagnosis, before even receiving treatment or realizing that this would be a life long illness, was around whether or not “in sickness and in health” could be upheld. I was not necessarily speaking about Steve directly, but young couples in general who find themselves in a sudden whirlwind in the cancer/illness world. Something less expected when echoing the intimate words, “in sickness and in health”.
Fortunately, despite being just shy of our two-year marriage and five year relationship, Steve and I feel like we have been partners for a lifetime. Generally speaking, we have gone through things that most couples, happily for them, don’t have to experience in their complete martial career.
When I first began my chemo treatments two weeks ago, it was very difficult to perceive what the effects of the chemo were versus my mental state overall. Chemo was something that had been a long, drawn out wait after my diagnosis, as I had to heal from my colectomy and ovarian surgery. Thereafter, Steve and I chose to go through fertility to secure our future family, which regrettably did not end up functioning. Low and behold, there were many steps to take to finally reach the time when my treatment would begin and while I was awaiting its arrival, it felt like a lurking ghoul.
Once the time irrevocably came, Steve was by my side during my clinic treatment, as well as the days to follow at home with my fusion pack, or proton pack, as he prefers to call it. I especially recall having a moment of complete absurdity and lunacy is a lesser of the mental state that I briefly found myself in.
After taking a lobster boil, my version of a bath, I recall getting out and wrapping my towel around me, but finding any way to bellow at Steve. Every little thing that he did, I chose to nit pick and badger as though he was this lad that suddenly became my punching bag for no reason. Shortly thereafter my momentary lapse in sanity, I sat in our huge wing backed chair; still wrapped up in the grey hotel like, fluffy towel and I started to cry. Steve, frustrated with my whips in emotion, sternly, yet supportively told me that I needed to get myself under control. My response was that you should never call a crazy person, crazy. Which then made me chuckle at what I had just said in return, as it made me sound even more nutty.
Steve took a walk to get some fresh air, along with our English Bulldog, Keg. He needed to take a moment to give me some alone time, collect my thoughts and I’m sure just get away from my mental state of mind in general. When he came back upstairs after his ephemeral walk, I cried at the site of him. When I looked at him I was beyond blue and told him the real reason behind my madness.
The thing is, I didn’t sign up for my cancer, but at the end of the day it’s my body, my life and my burden. I often feel guilty for those closest to me, because my burden has also become theirs. With Steve, I was inadvertently trying to push him away, perhaps to save him in a sense from a lifetime of cancer chatter, potential surgeries, chemotherapy and overall sickness. He just turned 29 and he’s had to take on the world, become my advocate, support system, caregiver, all the while still waking up at 4:30a to go to work and support us.
I explained to him that I was afraid of him leaving me, as a lot of marriages fail for much less of a reason. Attempting to “save” him from my illness, I wanted to give him an out now, before it progressed even further and ultimately be the one to say what I was feeling out loud, just in case that was how he felt deep down. He immediately put my mind to rest and said he would never leave me, I’m too easy to love and too big of a pain in the ass to leave. The funny thing is, that was his way of telling me, we will go the distance, to infinity and beyond.
Just the other day when I was given the prognosis that I would forever have cancer, incurably and preventatively have to remain on some form of chemo for the rest of my life, Steve was by my side for the news. Even though it came as a shock to the two of us at first, the day turned out to be one of the loveliest days of my life. We enjoyed the rest of the day to the hilt, even expressing to one another how we’ve never been happier with our lives since my diagnosis. It’s not that we are masochists and want to be going through all of the hardship with my health and all the baggage it that tends to follow, but meaning we’ve never been closer or more in love.
Things have been put into perspective for us and I would say even more so within the last two weeks. Something just clicked. We appreciate each other, the relationships we have with family and friends, our dog, the roof over our head and the simple joys of spending time together, no matter the place.
So, in my temporary moment of insanity brought great clarity. Steve isn’t going anywhere, nor was he planning on it. In my own, sick and twisted way it was me loving him enough to let him go if this was too much for him. Caregivers carry a great deal of encumbrance, especially spousal caregiving. They are there to support you and be strong for you, but it’s important that the caregiver also has support. It will take an army to make me better, but truly only the love of Steve and my family and friends to make me happy.
And Steve, I love you…thank you for being you.
***If you or someone you know is needing Caregiver support, please see the below organizations for assistance: (Please note that none of the below mentioned Organizations are affiliated with BeStillMyHeartBlog.)