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The Hidden Parts of My Husband's Journey With Cancer

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Editor's Note

This story has been published with permission from the author’s husband.

My husband has cancer. He is exceptionally open about his journey. He has good days and bad, up days and down. He talks about his pain, his fears, the struggles and hardships. He talks about his meds, his treatments, the hair loss and the nausea. But here’s what you don’t see:

You don’t see the times he struggles just to stand or the effort required to walk across the room.

You don’t see how tying his shoes leaves him winded or taking a shower requires a nap.

You don’t see the days he sleeps for upward of 20 hours or witness him shuddering from the nightmares that haunt him constantly.

Maybe he posts a selfie on a good day or we take a picture together, smiling at our favorite restaurant. What you don’t see is that it took everything he had to get dressed that day or that our entire outing consisted solely of a doctor’s appointment and maybe a quick bite after — if he was up to it. Or how just that much wiped him out completely for the rest of the day.

You don’t see the urgency when he needs something or the difficulty of simply finding something he can tolerate eating.

You don’t see the nights he doesn’t sleep because his body betrays him.

And you probably don’t notice the sharp edges of his bones beneath his clothes.

You don’t see the pounds melting off him or watch the scale, holding your breath, or see the exchange of glances between us as we wait for the numbers to flash.

You aren’t privy to the days he is confined to our room, trapped in his chair or the tears that flow, his face buried in his hands, as he worries about me or mourns the possible future for his children.

You don’t see the nights I sit on the bathroom floor, sobbing silently until my eyes are swollen shut and mascara streaks my face.

You don’t see the days I drive alone, music blaring, screaming at the sky — at no one in particular. But then again, neither does he.

Here’s what else you don’t see:

You don’t see him with me — at dinners, at functions, at the kids’ events, at church.

You don’t see how much it hurts him to walk, to stand, to sit, to lie down…

You don’t see the shadow of sorrow in him at having to miss so much or the flicker of heartbreak in me because I miss him so much.

My husband has cancer. He is extremely open with his journey, his battles, his pain. You see his strength, his courage, his fortitude and determination.

But there is so much that you don’t see.

Image via contributor

Originally published: March 5, 2020
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