I wrote this a month or so ago...thought I would share with you here. :D
Many of my posts on this blog have been about my own personal experiences on this journey as a cancer survivor. With my dear husband’s okay, this post is dedicated to my beautiful husband and wonderful children who not only lived this occasional anxiety driven journey but who also dodged and lived through the collateral damage and debris that such a journey can bring.
This is a very small snippet of their story, as I witnessed and how they explained it to me. An acknowledgment, that they lived and continue to live the cancer journey with me.
My beautiful tower of strength and my soul – my husband
When the tumour was first diagnosed my husband said it was a wake up call for him, that I wasn’t going to be around forever, perhaps the realisation that at times, like we do with our spouses or partners, we take them for granted in the knowledge they will forever be what they are. The seemingly innocent world that was pre-cancer was decimated with one telephone call. I remember watching my husband feel very vulnerable – hands wringing, skin picked, nails chewed. Tears at the dining table.
Cancer in hindsight has without a doubt bought us closer together as husband and wife, it gave us a deeper level of intimacy so much so, we renewed our wedding vows in an intimate sunset ceremony on New Year’s Eve and gave thanks for each other and for who we are – who we are however wasn’t always serene and tranquil.
Trust was tested, patience was exhausted, frustrations flared up and shouting matches ensued out of fear of loss and a fear that the love of your life may die. Indeed for me, confronting the possibility of dying in that I had to leave my spouse and children without wanting to. The word cancer in our household became a dirty word, a despised word, and one that was overused so much so that we didn’t want to talk about it not only to each other but even to the doctors on the telephone. When a medico called, the other walked out of the room – another reminder that this unwanted guest was overextending their stay.
Some days, it just got too hard for everyone.
Yes, we also know it could have turned out so much worse, as I sometimes cry out in frustration at hubby when I explain that a cancer friend of mine has been given 6 months and she has a 9 month old and is still in her 20′s and struggles how to tell her relatives – this is it. He picked me up off the floor when we lost a student at school to cancer – 15 years old, gets me raging mad even to this day in a desperation and a sense of helplessness. I couldn’t bring myself to attend her funeral because it was too hard to bear and to cope with – we had lost one of our own and at her age, it was bloody criminal. He was distressed at the lack of control such a situation can bring. What do you say? What do you do? How do you comfort?
He wasn’t able to be physically there in the school gym for the Worlds Greatest Shave, because it just reminded him that I had cancer and it was picking at a sore that was taking its time to heal. ” My wife has cancer and sometimes I don’t want to be reminded of it “
Today, although still very emotionally exhausted by the cancer experience, we are all the more better for it, as husband and wife and as individuals – it has strengthened our bond and we have become spiritually, emotionally closer as a couple. We take time out more, we embrace each other in every way and we appreciate and acknowledge each other. However in want of a better word and to quote this beautiful man that is my husband, we walked through an absolute “s*hit$torm” to get to where we are today.
“I don’t want to leave Mummy in case Mummy goes and she never comes back”
Our Amazing Grace took it the hardest. Hospital appointments in were wrought with tears and leg clinging when it was time to drop the children off at the “hospital kindy” on the way to the Oncologist. Ice creams and treats were rewards as our hearts broke as we watched the soulful and gut wrenching wailing and sobbing – a fear of separation and anxiety that crept in post hysterectomy and again, after the Christmas school holidays. This is part of the collateral damage that cancer leaves children whose Mummy is going through the journey.
It ebbs and flows. This is night two or three, I’ve lost count, this week where our little girl has been able to sleep in her own bed. For 4 days in a row, she awoke at 12:30am and sometimes 3:00am screaming, not being able to find myself or dear hubby and into the bed she came with us – with her little foot touching my leg or a little arm draped over hubby’s shoulder to make sure that we were always there with her.
Kindy and the prospect of making new friends is an exciting world for her now, each day Mummy is away from the hospital her confidence grows and her independence is restored. Smiles and excitement shared with a rainbow of happiness.
The future looks bright and positive and as far as we know – this story will have a happy ending.
Writing this post was difficult. I can talk about myself and how it affects me as I know how to handle and deal with me, but when you know that your diagnosis is the cause of so much soulful heartbreak and insecurity to the people you cherish and would die for to spare their pain, it stabs you in the centre of your very being.
I discussed this post with my husband and sought his ok, as you can appreciate it is a very private and personal family journey. Many of you comment via e-mail or facebook commenting on my or our strength or courage, and I am completely thankful for your support, but I also wanted to share with you, behind the smiles and positivity at work, behind the soulful and thoughtful meditations or status updates, the tears and the soul journey that we have experienced as a family, a journey that you rarely hear about on t.v or read in the medical pamphlets. A journey that is confronting and soul wrenching, that strips you bare, that tests you in every way possible and times mercilessly drags you by the hair to hell and back and to places inside you, you never thought existed.
It is also a journey that we have gently embraced, experienced, shared, loved in its own respects because it was one of the greatest teachers that showed us, that through it all we are able to achieve anything. The bonds that tie this family cannot be broken. We knew it, it just hadn’t been tested. So we know, within our hearts and souls, come what may, we will be more than ok. The love we have for each other as husband and wife, the parental love for their children and a child’s love for their Mummy & Daddy, in this little family is unconditional, constant and strong, albeit we now carry the battle scars for me physical and for my family as well as myself, emotional. Scars that tell a story and scars that are carried with a sense of pride and in some respects – achievement.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.