Fear and Love

Well…I know it has been a while since I have checked in on the blog.

We are moving through chemotherapy, with every-other week being quite a challenge. Recently Carl had a clean scan, revealing that there appears to be no cancer in his body. He did have a spot on his pancreas, but it appears to be a fluid collection that has remained in the last two scans and its unchanged size is somewhat encouraging that it is benign (non-cancerous). We will do more diagnostics after chemotherapy is finished to be certain that it is nothing more.

Carl will have his 5th chemo treatment today. With each treatment the side effects seem to increase. He is unable to drink, eat, or touch cold objects. It is more physical this round than it was for the first. He is nauseated, tired, and weak the after his chemotherapy treatment. The recent victory of removing his feeding tube was a huge milestone for him. Now we have to focus on balancing the weight-loss battle daily. It is strange…I never thought I would be telling my chef-husband to eat more!!!!!

This is hard to admit, but it has been a struggle for me to write down my feelings.  At this point I feel a silent victory appears to have been won. However, when we received the news of the clean scan, neither Carl nor I, felt the rush of relief that I assumed would accompany such news. Maybe the fear of the reality of his cancer, will keep us constantly on high-alert and unable to totally relax from a diagnostic stand-point. As if we are forever waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is odd to find that at this point in the process, I feel the most afraid, the most alone, the most emotional and the most exhausted. My strength, as the care-taker, seems to be weakening. The role of the wife in the battle to beat cancer is one where you storm through…fighting so hard to keep high moral in the home, to maintain whatever semblance of normalcy you can, that you often bulldoze right over the fear that lies in the deepest chambers of your heart.

That fear surfaced for me in a very real way last week, as I stumbled upon another young mother and wife fighting a very similar battle. Her husband was cancer-free for 9 months. They too have a baby,  an incredible loving support system. Just like us. With cancer, it is dangerous to compare yourself to another, because no two cases are the same. This wife and husband team, have not been as lucky in their fight. He is, as we speak losing his battle with his wearisome fight.I pray for comfort for her and her daughter. When I read through her blog (cocktailsandchemo.com), it unravelled me to the core. I could not get enough of her poetic words, and at times felt as though I was reading my own thoughts. It was as if she was I, and to hear their victory and then see the loss that they are now facing…it pushed me into a mental space that all wives of cancer bury deep inside and try to avoid. Her words surfaced my ultimate fear…maybe every family faced with cancer’s ultimate fear…

That after all this fight, you lose.

Since the beginning I have buried that fear. It would surface every time things would get really scary, but I then I would bury it deep down once again. I thought that I had dealt with the thought of raising my children alone, but after reading her story, it hit me like a Mac-Truck that I surely had not. Alone…a word I now feel daily as my partner battles his own demons. And then, after reading her story, it occurred to me just what alone meant, as simple and very self-explanatory as it is, and the permanency of it all washed over me like the ocean waves, took me down emotionally.

These are the things I forgot to think about, these are the things I know I would ache for, God forbid, I ever am truly alone. My fears are now more real as I watch another’s loss. And our victory has left a bittersweet taste in my heart.

I have almost found away to live in the lonely world of co-habitation that happens through the long haul of chemotherapy. Weeks go by where Carl is in out of sleep. Then he wakes and is so present, it is as if he does not have cancer at all. It is a bipolar world of symptoms and a roller-coaster of emotions…anger vs fear vs sadness vs love. My closest friends remind me that I cannot think worst-case scenario, and to a certain degree they are correct. However… What if fear becomes so real, that I am actually forced to live my life as though I am not guaranteed tomorrow? What if my fear of losing my best friend, makes me a better mother, a better wife, a kinder  person…the kind of person God intended me to be? What if fear makes me live my life with more purpose?

Then maybe living in fear is exactly where I need to be.

I pray to God every night that I can live in that heightened state, so that I fear now and have no regrets later should this story take an unexpected turn. That blog, as much as it hurt me to read, as much sorrow I feel for this woman and her baby, it opened my eyes to the reality of cancer. Their story may not be our story, but we don’t know what lies in store for us. And God, I pray that our’s is one of victory. It is hard to imagine, what her week has been like. How does a husband say goodbye to his wife and baby… Do you lay together and talk until your voice is hoarse? Or do you lay there silently letting all of the unsaid words be swallowed up by the pain?

These are the thoughts that are running through my head and however unhealthy they are, they force me to think about fear and its ability to push me towards living each day to the fullest. Please pray for this family, and pray for mine, and all the other families out there fighting this fight. It is never really over, fear and love never really leave your heart. My vow is to cherish each moment with my husband, because I am blessed to have the opportunity to do so, while so many others have lost this battle.

We are fearfully and lovingly moving forward, always together in our fight.

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