It was on this day, a day that we have anticipated since the start, that Angela received her 16th and final Chemotherapy treatment. I remember clearly our first ride to the treatment facility as we both fought tears of sadness & worry in comparison the final ride was just as emotional however the tears were of joy and not of sadness.
Energy was flying high the evening before as my wife created a farewell to chemo sign that she would carry all day and keep as memento to remember her battle. She arrived at the facility bright & early with donuts for the nurses and of course her sign. She took the treatment like the veteran she has become and afterwards celebrated with the doctor and his staff and then we left hopefully to never return again for treatment.
So with this phase of our five year plan to defeat cancer now over I’m left to ponder the future and evaluate the past. As for the past I started to list a few of the lessons that were learned. Some we successfully incorporated into our lives others well
1. Be positive
2. Listen—I’m not good at this—I try to fix things
3. When nausea sets in leave her be- I tried to comfort
4. Tell her that you love her--often
5. Take care of yourself—I would say I did a good job but my wife would say otherwise.
6. Be there for her when she needs you.
7. Allow her to do that things that she likes to do. I have to admit I battled her tooth and nail when she tried to vacuum the floor, clean the kitchen, do the wash or spend the day at the baseball field. In the end I now realize I was wrong.
8. Do not allow others to abuse her kindness—for whatever reason there were some that were not sensitive to her illness & held her accountable for unreasonable expectations. I managed this & managed it well
9. Let others do things for you & your family—this is not an easy thing for my wife or I but we realized early on we needed the help and it allowed those around us to have that opportunity to know they were needed.
10. Women are stronger than men—my wife was able to internalize her pain to put on a good show for the kids & I so we would not worry.
11. Sometimes no means yes—my wife is the type of person who will say she can handle something by herself because she does not want to put that burden on someone else. I took her back & forth to every treatment despite her claim that she could do it herself however I regret missing the monthly checkups & the one CAT scan. I should have been by her side regardless of whether they were the scheduled 15 minutes or if they extended to an hour.
12. Disagreements/arguments still happen-emotions don’t change because someone is sick—life continues—Instead of being reactive try to get a deeper understanding of the source of the disagreement. Getting mad, doing irrational things will not solve anything & ultimately only introduces more stress into the lives of both parties.
13. It is okay to cry but once you’re done move forward and not backward.
14. Trust the medical professionals.
15. Go to church, pray to God and when doing so pray for others that are suffering as well.
The future holds change---change in lifestyle (diet, exercise,etc.) , change in responsibilities (kids & I will relieve her of duties), change in how we manage stress & finally change in our involvement with the community. The outpouring of compassion, support & love expressed by the community has overwhelmed both my wife and I leaving us speechless and overwhelmed. Once we are back on our feet again it is our turn to pay it back.
One final message to my wife is I love you dearly and I will always be by your side regardless of illness or any other challenge that may lie ahead. You battled cancer and you are a survivor!