Surviving cancer with your best friend, husband, or wife starts out a little rough with all the treatment options that are dropped like bombs over your head. You try to calculate the days, months, and or years of fighting the disease. There is plenty to decide and do, much less holding yourself together so you can support the one you love. I remember being numb and kind of separating the emotional pain and worry from what I had to do. Was this the right thing to do?
There is no right or wrong way to feel, ever. It’s what you do with those feelings that matter. I felt so relieved to know I wasn’t alone. Somewhere along the way during my life, a therapist or self-help book told me all feelings are valid. I loved that word “valid”.
So once a person knows that they are free of guilt and shame for being emotional, they can focus on where they need to be strong. Showing my worry to John wasn’t going to help. I knew that because he needed hope as much as I did. So we hoped together. No one can take your hope away unless you give up hoping.
Listening to him if he was worried and responding realistically but positive was the way to go. John was one that needed a question now and then of what he was feeling or thinking. I knew with my man that he didn’t enjoy talking about that stuff so I only asked on a few occasions in case he wanted to talk. Without saying anything, I knew he was thinking about whether he was going to live, how long he was going to live, and how sad it was to be in pain. Who wants to talk about that?
What I realized later when he finished treatments, and was well enough to work, was that he must have used that time to do a lot of thinking. This helped me, because I found out he was concerned deeply about what would happen to us if he died. I know it’s heavy stuff but true. You can go through this with your loved one knowing they are thinking of you as much as you are thinking of them. Something about losing your health allows you to see the most important things in life.
clean your house
take care of yourself
provide meals and transportation
Provide clean sheets and blankets and clothing
We all do this because we enjoy the results with the people we love. We need to take care of ourselves but a big part of that is caring for someone else. It fills your heart and soul with warmth that no other luxury can.
So you can see hopefully, that toughing it out with the one you love is a chance to experience more love. Take your emotions and realize it’s because of the amazing attachment you’ve made with this person and know you are being the warm human being you were meant to be. Don’t let it shut you down, and I know it’s tempting to give up, but allow the strength that comes from real love move you to do what needs to be done.
Allow your love to help you make decisions for your time use. The way your house looks, those long cooking sessions, shopping often, and running around with friends should probably be on the back burner right now, while your focus is on surviving cancer. Don’t give them up completely, but do them less often. I know it sounds obvious but it’s actually harder than you think.
I remember when we moved into a new neighborhood and John was still spending nights sleeping on the couch and his whole day. We had the cushions off the back and sheets and pillows made like a bed. Our thinking was that just because John was sick, didn’t mean he wanted to be alone up in his bedroom all day. He slept a lot anyways, but the comfort of hearing the daily routines kept him connected to us and we wanted to be with him. I love to have a beautifully decorated orderly home but you have to make important changes for important things and let other things go.
A new neighbor stopped by, and she was doing the neighborly thing, but I’m sure it caught her off guard to see the house the way it was! I apologized for the mess (which wasn’t that bad) and she said, ” Well, I guess this is how real families live isn’t it”. She didn’t have any children. I thought to myself, I really don’t care anymore, this is how we live and our reasons are valid!