Day: May 13, 2016

The other side of the breast – A husband’s perspective

As you all know, for the last little while, my lovely wife, Krista has been blogging about her experiences with stage 4 breast cancer. I can see first hand that her blogs have been very therapeutic for her, and informative, and entertaining for her readers. I’m very proud of her.
When thinking of subjects to discuss, Krista and I decided it would be an interesting opportunity to deliver my experiences as a husband and father.
This whole journey has been a roller coaster of emotions. Krista and I can be very different people emotionally and in the way we process information.
The very beginning started with Krista and I laying in bed. Krista was showing me her breast and was concerned about abnormalities. I told her it’s likely nothing ( and I believed it was nothing ), and told her to get it checked. This is where it all starts. Krista is the realist, and I’m the never ending optimist.
When she did get it checked, and was booked tests for the next day, she phoned my cell crying. Again, I could not believe MY wife had breast cancer. And again, I told her it was probably nothing.
Fast forward to our first meeting with the surgeon, to do a biopsy. Shit was getting real now. The doctor left the room, but he left his computer screen on. As Krista sat on the examining table, I read the notes as quickly as I could. In these notes, the examining doctor said she believes Krista had breast cancer. I almost dropped to the floor. All I had in my mind was I have to hold my self together. Krista was already scared.
The doctor came in and explained that Krista more than likely had breast cancer, but until the biopsy came back, we didn’t know what stage or what type. Stage? Type? I thought breast cancer was breast cancer. Cut the thing off and be done with it. Boy was I wrong.
When we got home that day, and pulled in the driveway, it finally sunk in and I lost it. I started screaming and crying like a toddler having a temper tantrum. IT’S NOT FUCKING FAIR!!!!!!!!!!
As the weeks went on, and the appointments increased, we started to understand what was happening, and her diagnosis. I’m not going to go into too much detail about the diagnosis, because Krista has done that, I’m just going to talk about my thought process during the last 2 years.
When something like this happens, the first thing you do as a man is have a pity party in your mind. “This can’t be happening”. There’s a feeling of helplessness that is unimaginable. I’m supposed to protect my family, and my wife has this life sucking disease, that I’m unable to fight. There’s been countless times that I wished that this was happening to me instead. I think of my kids and think they need their mother more than they need me. As silly as this sounds, its how I feel.
Ahhh, the kids. They are a huge factor in how I process this. Ethan is 14, and becoming a young man, and I feel very confident that I can impart my manly wisdom and help him into adulthood. But lets be honest, he is his Mama’s boy. Naomi on the other hand is 8, and when I think about her and the prospect of raising her on my own, all I have is numerous Who’s the Boss episodes running through my head.
It’s weird. When I think about losing my wife, even though it’s likely years from now, I always think of how I’m going to handle the kids at the age they are now. Then I kind of make little deals with myself, or whomever. “Please let her be here for 10 more years, then Naomi will be 18.” I don’t say that because I don’t want to be a single dad, I say it because one of my fears is that Naomi won’t have real, tangible memories of her mother. How much do you remember from when you were 8?
Krista has been doing a bit of travelling since her diagnoses. Of the times she goes without the kids and I, it’s difficult for me emotionally. Don’t get me wrong, I want her to grab life by the balls and see the world, it’s just that it’s a bit of a dose of reality. For whatever reason, it’s like a taste of what it’ll be like when she’s gone. I haven’t even told Krista this, but when she’s away for any extended period of time, I get anxiety and panic attacks. It starts the day after she leaves, ramps up to full ridiculousness a few days later, then settles down when she’s a day or two away. By no means do I want this to stop her from going anywhere, I’ll just need to find a way to deal with it. On the plus side, the kids behave better for me when she’s not here, and I actually clean stuff.
Sex……There I said it. Krista touched on this, and now I’m going to give my side. Before she was diagnosed, but she wasn’t feeling normal, If I didn’t get it on the regular, I would feel resentful. Yeah, I’m a guy and I want to bang my wife, so sue me. But with the diagnosis came an understanding. I am no longer resentful, and she has limitations that we both understand. Contrary to what she may believe, I still find her as sexy as ever, and cancer has not changed that. Yes I still do bug her for sex, and when she says no, I say ” Well, you don’t have mouth cancer”
There are some positives:
Like anything in life, there are two sides to a coin. Our unwanted guest cancer has brought us some gifts.
It sounds hokey as shit, but it makes you really see what’s important in life. Arguments about money and stupid shit are rare now. We have a united front like never before. It may be a bad thing, but we are very “live in the now”
We have the greatest friends and family in the world, and we are reminded of that day in and day out. The opportunities that have been presented to us are countless. You all know who you are, and we love you.
I feel very educated. I know so much more about breast cancer than I ever wanted to know, but if our experiences help anybody, it would be great.

In closing, through this all, I’ve learned a lot about my wife. She’s a mother, a wife, a fighter, a realist, a dreamer, a gambler, a traveler, an adventurer, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a bitch, the bud of my jokes, but more importantly, she’s Krista, and that’s all I want.

Advertisements

Who wants to go down with the ship

When someone is diagnosed with a disease, you quickly find out who your true friends are.  I have to admit, it would be difficult to put up with some of the awful things a person has to go through.  It would not be easy to watch a loved one suffer. Feeling helpless to make the person feel better.  Let me tell you how shocked and amazed I was to find out who would support me and my family and to drop everything if I needed them.

It is so hard to want to be around people when you know you are hurting them. At one time I felt I had to close myself off to protect the ones I love.  I felt guilty and sad and angry about how my cancer and eminent death would hurt everyone. “The Fault In Our Stars” book/movie pretty much nailed it, “I’m like a grenade, and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties” (slightly changed by me) It is so conflicting and lonely, you want to be surrounded by friends and family but you don’t want to hurt anyone, knowing you will cause so much pain is a terrible burden. I felt I shouldn’t have had children, shouldn’t have gotten married, what a horrible person I am to do this to them!

The truth is, I can’t do this alone. In my darkest times, I am beyond thankful to have my family and friends.

Patrick and I have lost a few friends since my diagnosis. A few that we were quite surprised to lose. We do not hold anger toward them, but disappointment for sure. Why? -is the question we ask each other most. Some of the people were close, so close. Perhaps the reason they won’t or can’t be around anymore is that they just can’t handle it. As I said above, it is a challenging situation. Maybe it brings up hurtful memories. Opens their scars they fought so long to heal. Maybe they struggle with their own mortality. Maybe they just really didn’t like us and found their out. Regardless, I learned that they were not meant to be a part of this story. Sometimes as a friend we must put ourselves aside and be there for the other person.  That is true friendship and love!

I am surrounded by the most steadfast people!  Thank you!!! We have unlimited respect and love for each other. As much as I need them, they need me too! I would be crazy to shield myself away from them!

The people that have stayed around, put up with all my shit, stood by, were leaned on, they are the ones that deserve our time and adoration. They have supported in so many ways: came to appointments, made us dinner, sent a simple card expressing love and support, bringing me your favorite scarf for my bald head, calling or messaging just to check in, dropping by, letting me cry it out, helping us move, listening, going on adventures with me, my god I cannot list all the ways in which my family and friends have touched my life and heart. I swear I would have given up by now without you!

I love you: Patrick, Ethan, Naomi, Tina, Cindy, Aboudy, Noah, Benjamin, Aunt Eileen & Uncle Len, Jenn & Brian, Jen & Mat, Shannon & Mark, Kathy & Vic, Mom, Uncle Donnie & Aunt Linda & Fam, Kyla, Tash & Fred, Aunt Betty & fam, Darlene Dave & Fam, Cousin Kelly. Davey  Belkis & Fam, Deedee, Emile & Erin, Lisa & Ricky, Granny, Elaine Pete & Fam, all my cousins!! all my family in New Brunswick East Coast represent!!! All my LifeLabs ladies!! All my readers!! My supporters!! My fellow fighters!!

*If I missed anyone, I am sorry. I do not often proofread, my writing is organic and sometimes I post too quickly. Just remember, I love you too! xo