Cancer has a way of becoming self-consuming. Suddenly, your world revolves strictly around you. You become the center of your own world, by means of Doctor visits, relationships and ways to keep yourself moving along, when the possibility of life and death is a glooming balancing act. Having said that, many things fall to the wayside and unless it has to do with the Big C; you may or may not have the energy to fulfill other areas of your life like you were once capable of doing; i.e.- work, exercise, relationships (both romantic and friendships), housekeeping, grocery shopping and all of the things that were once second nature.
More recently, my lack of normalcy has increased by way of exhaustion as I slip further and further into the realm of treatment. It’s not often that I have ample energy to get up and brush my hair, let alone run to the store or tidy the house. Countless duties have since fallen upon my husband, Steve and without much complaint. The real principle of this story is how cancer can affect marriage. Marriages can suffer from a lot lesser of grounds, but when cancer enters the picture it befalls a whole set of un-embracing worries and difficulties.
For the patient, even when there is an absence of energy, you want to remain somewhat independent. However, typically so, chemo and a drug-induced mindset may have you disregarding some vital aspects to your recovery, such as remembering to take your medication, eating the right foods for your body and overall judgment when it comes to your best interest. This is where a caregiver or spouse in my case would come into play. Being a caregiver or spouse, or even both, in which Steve plays the role of many at this current stage in life, can be extremely tiresome with an ongoing dependability from yours truly. My personal reliability on Steve at times goes unnoticed by me. He is so upright and honorable with each hat that he dons and quite frankly not enough credit is given on my part.
Being that I want to bring to light the full disclosure of cancer and all that it encompasses, it would be a sham if I chose to leave my marriage out of the picture, for that is one of the leading relationships in my life and also has an infinite impact on my life with cancer. I often think of what it would be like to be single as I am going through all of this hullaballoo. Sure, I have an outstanding family and set of friends that would and have united around me during my time in need, both the sunny and gloomy times, but somehow being single during this time would be a far different experience. Conversely, what if I would have ended up with someone other than Steve? I think about that too and it scares me to death, but also makes me cringe at the thought. Steve is the only person whom I can picture to go on this tumultuous journey with and I truly believe he was placed in my life for many reasons, this being one of them.
A lot of emotions come from being a fulltime sick person. Unfortunately a lot of those emotions are taken out on the ones you love most and see most. In Steve’s case, he lives and breathes my cancer prognosis right beside me and regrettably sees the not so fetching sides that I have to offer, as his wife. There are days, sometimes even weeks where I do not see the light of day with the exception of Doctor appointments or chemo treatments. As Steve leaves for work each and every morning, there I am laying in bed. As he comes home to me each night, there I lay in bed, still. It’s difficult to not feel as though I have become a shell of who I once was and the thought of getting up and out of bed at times feels as though I would be walking on broken glass. Day after day, night after night, Steve sees my physical and mental condition fading further and further from him, all the while continuing to be the man standing aside me, ensuring I have taken the appropriate medication, eat dinner and then puts me to bed to do it all over again the next day. Point being, he sees the worse of it all and the ratio of good to bad, is most definitely bad.
As we attempt to take this all in one day at a time and communicate as much as possible in an effort to stay vigilant in our marriage, Steve opened up to me the other day about something that had been weighing heavily on his mind. He doesn’t often get asked how he is coping with all of this, as everything tends to revert back to how I am doing. But moreover, his concern was that when I do have energetic days, I am so conscious of trying to keep my friendships afloat that I spend all of my good days with them, all the while he doesn’t get to benefit from any of my upbeat days for quality time between him and I. After digesting his concerns, I realized that he was so spot on. I couldn’t bring myself to recall the last time we spent doing something fun, like we used to do pre-diagnosis. Prior to being diagnosed, Steve and I were true adventurers’, partners in crime and truly loved being by each other’s side, whilst having endless amounts of laughs and good times.
Now, here we are six months into my cancerous life and those times have become few and far between. As I awoke on Monday morning, I convinced Steve to take a few personal days from work so we could go back to being us. The us that had always been footloose and fancy-free. We spent a few days drenched in fun by lunching, going to the movies, walking around window-shopping, having a picnic on a farm, driving up South Mountain, with a small hike to the top peak where we felt we were on top of the world and in the end just had some good old fashioned quality time. After our few days in martial bliss, we felt a sense of reconnection and despite my health issues, if we keep us on the right track, then balance will be restored in our world.
Steve, words will never be able to express the gratitude I have towards you and all that you do for me. You are my blessing through all of this pain and I love you more than anything. Thanks for standing by me through the worst of times and may the best of times soon be on our side. Love always, Britt xx