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Wellness

What It Takes For A Healthy Marriage In The Face Of Cancer

Sometimes we find ourselves caught up in how happy things are that are actually not good for us. For example, a few years ago one of my good friends was diagnosed with a blood cancer.

I thought about the situation and started to reflect on what I’d like to say. I’ve been through three years of cancer, so, I felt as though it might be a good time for me to share some of my experiences about my own experiences in the fight against cancer and on how I’ve gone about healing myself, and on how I came to appreciate it through the lens of gratitude.

My friend, Alex, was diagnosed with a blood cancer in 2011. This diagnosis put her in a tough place. She had to decide whether to take on the cancer or not. She knew that it could kill her, but she chose to take the risks of knowing that she had a fighting chance at being the best mother that she knows she can be. Even when other friends told her that they weren’t going to continue their friendship if she had this decision to make, Alex persisted. She didn’t want to be alone, she wanted it to be a positive experience that she would do anything to preserve. Her attitude towards her cancer is reflective of every other aspect of what she brought to the table.  

 My first thought was the same you would have if you were told that all you had was a 50% chance of life and you had to look at that chance and try to figure out what you would do with it. My second thought was not what I would have said, it was what my friend and I would have agreed to. We each saw our cancer as something that happened to us in that moment, when we were very young and didn’t yet know what was going to happen to us in the future. It was still something to be scared of but something that we could face and learn how to prepare for and cope with. The third thought, which is most important, was this: “What does it take for my mom to understand this and respect my decision?” That was the hard question.

 When I became seriously ill I didn’t realize how my cancer had affected my mom. I can remember how shocked and distressed she was when she learned about this. But what she understood was that I needed to do what I thought was the right thing for me to do, no matter the impact it had on her.  If I needed to take those risks, then that was the right thing to do, and she understood that even if it meant the world to me. Her experience was a reflection not only of what my cancer had done to me, but also my resilience and my ability to get back on track and find my strength again. And that, for her:  it’s not enough for me to do the right thing, it’s what my mom understands about how I do and how I feel that really helps her understand.

When my friend, Alex, was diagnosed with her blood cancer, she also went into an incredibly deep depression. This depression was incredibly difficult to handle. It wasn’t just the fear of what may happen to her in the future but it was also the fear of what was happening to everyone connected with her. She felt like she lost her entire support system and friends for the remainder of her life. It felt like everyone she cared about was abandoning her. Even the people that I found through out my cancer journey, such as my mom, seemed to not get it and were not sympathetic. This brought another level of pain to an already emotional situation.