10 Things I Want Spouses to Know About Their Partner's Cancer
A friend asked me what I wanted my husband to know about my breast cancer. I cannot stop thinking about it. I even posted the question on Facebook. While I do not regret anything he did, there are many things I wish he knew looking back. I want to start off by saying that my husband did the best he possibly could. These are the 10 things I wish my husband knew about my cancer:
1. He cannot fix this, ever. He is a fixer, like many husbands, and he wanted so badly to fix this. He could not figure out how to fix the situation, which was frustrating to him. This was not his fault nor mine. There was nothing he could do to ever make this right.
2. Saying nothing is sometimes the best thing to do. At the time, my husband did not know what to say but thought he needed to say something. Sometimes a simple hug or shoulder to cry on is all we need, truthfully. All I needed was him to be there for me.
3. Even five years later, this body is not what I envisioned. The scarred, mutilated version I am left with is something that is difficult for me to come to terms with. Even though my husband loves all of me, I am still angry, hurt and sad that what I had is gone, and I am so changed. Yes, I have made progress since my diagnosis, but the weight gain and the scars still creep in under the sheets. Add the fear that any moment it could come back and my mind goes very dark.
4. Cancer messes with your mind in a way no one warns you of. I am still processing this whole thing, and I need time to build it back together.
5. These pills I take to “lower my risk” also add to daily joint pain, which is a daily reminder I had breast cancer in the first place. So while he may forget about it, I think about it daily. The pain, the scars and the fake boobs are all a reminder that I have changed so much. How could I not? But, at the end of the day, I am still me.
6. Breast cancer screws with your hormones, so while I may not seem out of whack, I am. I lost my breasts, my ovaries, my uterus, my everything. It is a major adjustment.
7. I am tired, so tired.
8. I am sorry. Why sorry, you ask? There is a layer of guilt that I did this to our family. That for a year, and now for life, I put our family through surgeries, radiation, doctor appointments, drains, more surgeries, scans and fear. So much fear. That our boys were robbed of innocence at such young ages. It is my fault that their medical records will have a history of “cancer.” That for the rest of their lives they will live in fear that something will happen to their momma or that they will get sick. This is the part of breast cancer that shatters my heart.
9. I will bare my scars, not only for myself but so that the next person diagnosed can see that you do heal and you do get through each step. When others relate to the images or see me, they connect with me and validate my emotions. When that happens, I heal a little, too. Then we are both not alone.
10. While I may not always need him to fix me, I do need him to shine my tiara for life. Even if it is from a hospital bed.
Image via Annmarie Otis.