I have more reasons than most to celebrate. Did you know when you Google "breast cancer and marriage", some of the first pages that come up are titled "First comes breast cancer, then comes divorce"? That's sad. There are a lot of life-changing events that take a toll on marriage: children, jobs, moving, death, and yes - cancer.
My greatest hope is that every woman facing this dark journey has an amazing support system. That could be mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, children or friends. For me, it was all of those (well, except the sister part), which makes me a lucky lady. I'm even more lucky that I've been surrounded by, covered with and lifted up by the love of an amazing man.
There is nothing easy or fun about breast cancer. Bottom line - a cancer diagnosis means you are in a fight for your life. Even now, three and a half years later, I'm still fighting. Even though treatments and surgeries are in my rearview mirror (and hopefully will stay there!), I'm still fighting through it. Chemo, radiation, hormone therapy, more surgeries than you can count on one hand...it all takes a toll.
The best medicine in the world, for me, is having a husband who doesn't bat an eye at any of it. I know this hasn't been easy for him. But through 1264 days of living with a breast cancer diagnosis, he has always made it all about me. Even though his burden has been just as heavy, he has never once let me feel it. He has shouldered all of my troubles as well as his own, without complaint, since d-day.
Fifteen and a half years ago, Hubby said those vows to me. Back then I was young and healthy. I was the one who teased him about getting older and having to take all kinds of medicine. Little did we know that a bride ten years his junior would get breast cancer at age 40. Suddenly HE was the healthy one having to take care of me. My part of the medicine cabinet rivals his now. We have an ongoing argument about which one of us is more exhausted, or who is in more pain. It's a weird bonding thing I guess..... but you know what? On this, the eve of our 17th Valentine's Day together, after everything we've been through as husband and wife, I'm blessed that we still have the bond that we do.
Having cancer changes a person. I'm not the same as I was before August 1, 2013. I hate that for me. I'm older and wiser, but not so sweet or innocent. My body is different... and scarred. I've had to find a strength I didn't think I had. I've had to find a way to live with fear. I've had to find a way to love the new me. Loving someone with cancer changes a person. I'm not the same person Hubby fell in love with. I hate that for him. He didn't ask for this, he didn't sign on for this, and he doesn't deserve it. But he has never once let on that he feels that way. He continues to love me better than anyone - day by day, month by month, year by year.
I am blessed.