A few months back I was googling different things on cancer... something I tend to do often. This particular time I was searching for information on how men cope when their partner has breast cancer. I came across a woman's breast cancer blog who had her husband and other family and friends write entries from their points of view. It was exactly what I was looking for! It helped me understand what Eric was going through... There was always so much emphasis on how I was feeling and what I was going through... I didn't always know and understand what he was going through. Reading this entry from another man's view helped me understand what this all felt like for Eric. It was like a light bulb went on. :) The next day I talked with him about the entry and asked him if he'd be interested in doing something like that. He said yes he would... but then a lot of time went by and he never brought it up again. Today he posted the below entry. You'll notice he's very good with his words... one of the many things I love about him. I laughed and cried while reading this. I hope that his point of view will be helpful to other people going through this ucky cancer business!
Margie has asked me on a few different occasions if I wanted to write something for her blog. And those of you who read this blog and who know me well, know that I’m usually not one who is shy with my words, more often than not has something to say, and more so, is usually pretty adept at crafting those words in written form. In fact, I’ve always prided myself on that. But I’ve struggled to do so now because I wanted to say something profound or unwittingly wise. I wanted to say something that would make the last year seem a little more bearable. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be any of those things now and the next few paragraphs you’ll read have taken me about eight weeks and three or four re-writes. And who knows if they actually say anything really at all, but frankly, it’s probably the most honest I’ve been in a while so that probably counts for something…
I can still remember the day we sat in the oncologist's office planning out the next few months of our lives and the treatment Margie was about to undergo. I felt helpless. I felt useless. Like no matter how hard I hugged her, no matter how many times I told her I love her, I couldn’t fix it. I fucking hated that the most. I hated the fact that she was scared shitless and that no matter what I said, what I wrote, I couldn’t do anything to steal those words from her ears.
Being a typical male, whenever there was a problem I’ve always been one to say “no worries, we’ll fix it.” I’ve always tried to be one to take away other people’s worries. Sure that works when the dishwasher is broken, or you run out of gas on the side of the freeway. But when the woman you love finds out that she has the most aggressive form of breast cancer, there’s not much to say. And though I’ve said some dumb things in my life (probably more than I can count), even I wasn’t dumb enough to tell her “no worries, we’ll fix it.” But goddamn did I want to. There were times when I tried to cheer her up, when instead I should have just shut up and not said anything at all. There were times when I acted like I was a doctor and run the medical show, when I couldn’t even play an extra on Grey’s Anatomy. Shit, I was clueless. I just wanted to make her feel normal again.
nor•mal [nawr-muh l]
1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual;
2. serving to establish a standard.
The moment I fell for Margie on Mother’s Day weekend four years ago, nothing for me would ever be normal again. The way we met that night, certainly not common. The smiles that she helped me produce when we were together in the weeks thereafter, far from usual. The way she made me feel like there wasn’t anyone else in the room when she was around, in no way conformed to the standard. The hours-long phone conversations we’d have – me in San Francisco, she in Seattle – were undoubtedly not usual. And ever since as I chased her around the schoolyard to get her to like me, our relationship hasn’t been normal. So, after some introspection, I came to the realization that “normal” wasn’t ever a part of our life in the past, so why would I think it would be moving forward? However, the one thing I refuse to do is to talk about things as the "new normal" or "our life after diagnosis." In my opinion, that's letting the cancer win, letting it take over your body AND your mind and I refused to do that.
But regrettably, that never stopped me from asking “Why Margie? Why a mom with two of the best little girls in the world? Why a person who gives more of herself to her friends and family than she'd ever expect in return? Why?” And though I’ve never admitted this to her, there were times I’d just pull over on
the side of the road on the way home from work or the grocery store and just cry uncontrollably. Because though I could never take away her pain, never take away her being scared, I could project an air of calm in a sea of unbelievable madness. I could provide a strong shoulder for her and her girls. But this cancer battle and all the bullshit that goes with it…well…it was hard on me, too. And yes I realize it affected me about 10-percent as hard as it affected her, but it is misery just the same. And though by no means perfect along the way, I’ve tried to be strong and be that infallible person she could count on through all of it. Whether I succeeded, you’ll have to ask her. But I’m proud of my commitment to her and proud that we made it through it still together, as 7 of 10 breast cancer-afflicted relationships don’t.
The last year has been a complete blur - from diagnosis to surgeries to treatment. I'd be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about the cancer coming back. But, I always try and remember the following quote I read somewhere, "You can spend all your time worrying about a recurrence. If you never have a recurrence you've wasted all that time worrying, and if you do have a recurrence you've still wasted all that time worrying, when you could have been enjoying life." So, I’m going to make sure that Margie and I and the girls spend every possible moment from here on out enjoying life no matter what.
Through it all, I can say that I’ve never wavered once in my commitment to Margie, to her girls and to giving her and them the life that they so deserve. Though she doesn’t believe in the word, I love her unconditionally. And though this shitty disease has attacked her body, changing it forever, I’ve never once looked at her as the girl with cancer. I’ve always just looked at her as the girl who flashed a ridiculously amazing smile and offered to “share” her lip-gloss with me the one night that forever changed my life. That’s who she was then and that’s who she will always be to me…