Sunday, November 17, 2013

At the risk of being called by John as "dramatic"

... I published the beginning of my confessions. He's always on the web so I am not sure if he will discover my blog one day. Man, I felt so much better after I wrote that post. I actually started writing it on my phone last Friday on my way home. I had my Talkboard app capture my thoughts as they crossed my mind. Inside the car, at the photo studio at work, during break times--during those "in-between moments." Just needed to deal with the mental torture.

However, if there's any bright side to this, this situation revealed the fibers of our relationship. How strong each strand is and how it can be strengthened. How profound our bond is and how meaningless everything around us is actually. All that matters is that for each breathing moment, you feel alive. I want John to experience that. To feel loved, to feel happy and to feel that he has a strong grip on life.

I wonder how many wives my age go through something like this?

Truth is, I have been trying to repress things. John dislikes it when I am being a softee. He wants me tough. Like a man! He abhors drama. For him, you recognize the bleeding pain then move forward from there. While I tend to be like that 99% of the time, being threatened by cancer is something that I have no control of and it just shook the boat in the most horrible way you can imagine. Then unknowingly, this whole thing was eating me. Tried to not be dramatic with last night's post but maybe there's a little tinge to it. Just a little. ;-)

I am beginning to see how difficult it can be to not have a support system around you. Probably, it's more apt to say that I have to admit that I can't go through it alone anymore. I go to work every day like a machine, with no trace of brokenness or pain. Just functioning. Same daily programming. I am experience-free when it comes to being a wife to a patient with cancer. That part John doesn't realized. But I've been tested by various circumstances and I only know one way of facing battles--confront them.

The crux of this situation we're confronted with is straight and simple. Life and health are not a given. The only given is that we are all on this journey.

John and I intend to go through it together.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Confessions Of A Cancer Patient's Wife

Since we came home from that July trip to the Emergency Room in Legacy, I've been living in fear. When the doctors painted a clearer picture of what was in front of us, it felt worse than hell breaking loose. This Big-C word just invaded our lives and seriously shook the happy boat. We were powerless. Speechless. As though on cue, I held back my tears, removed myself from emotions, overlooked the drama and decided to wear the tougher cookie badge. That fateful moment demanded for me to stay clear-headed. My role as a wife, as a best friend, as next of kin just got challenged. My purpose as a human got redefined. I was initially incredulous but those lab results won't lie. 

Instant rewind took place in my mind. Three years ago, when I decided to marry him, I knew that the likelihood of things such as this happening is high. This year, reality surfaced. 

The findings shouldn't have come as a surprise. We've made trips to Asia (Philippines, Thailand) on an "exploratory mission." We were looking for cheaper options outside the United States. This was after we've done initial doctor visits here. Also, our research already revealed the health scare story. However, it is true that when reality hits you, it does let out an excruciating bite. The situation was unbearable, indescribable and unfathomable. I can't find the right words to say. Learning that the one you love the most is being threatened by a major illness is the worst feeling ever. However, that very second, I refrained from displaying any sort of reaction as I reached for John's hands. For heaven knows how he took that blow. It was an attack in his life, in what he holds dear, in what he feels was his last chance at having a happy stay on Earth. His feelings were far more important than what I was going through inside. Horrible is an understatement. I just knew that from that day forward, we'd have to try very, very hard to keep our heads above water. Not by choice but by circumstance, we were signed up for a wild, insane ride.

Confessions Of A Cancer Patient's Wife

If it isn't clear yet, John won the lottery in the cancer department. The kind of winning that nobody wants. He also scored a Powerball. He acquired the rarest type of it. Mantle Cell Lymphoma. The weeks that followed were spent on blood-work, biopsies, unnecessary tests and bypassing medical access red tapes. We've been blessed with awesome doctors and nurses at Compass Oncology who did nothing but pumped a tremendous amount of joie de vivre and enthusiasm into our spirits. Everyone was hoping for John to overcome this battle. 

Tonight, I cannot believe that I am writing this. Perhaps, I just need to. Offloading is a skill that I need to have. Maybe this blog can help me. I've never discussed John's cancer story with anyone except with some key people in my life. It can be devastating. It can make you feel alone especially when I don't know anybody here and my family is so far away. Or very busy to care about me.  

Normally, the only side people see is that of the cancer patient (or survivor). The part that is obscured by surface realities is the other big chunk of the story. That person has his or her own battle too. Am I being self-centered if I confess that I am very scared to lose the best thing that ever happened to me?

Three chemotherapy sessions and monthly updates to relatives later, I found myself waking up one morning feeling really knocked out. Weeks prior to that, I felt that I was running low on optimism. The sadder truth is that, I felt powered by false energies. My motivations were coming from bills piling up, food on the table, responsibilities at work, website management and of course, hope that we'll get out of this situation one day. 

It doesn't help that John's hitting emotional valleys sometimes. We're not benefiting either from his being stubborn to take the medicines prescribed by doctors. He questions everything and refuses to take anything until he's done his research about the side effects. Well, that is wise. But the negativity that comes from it causes some unnecessary toxic moments. We'd have small arguments about him doing that and those instances can immediately kill my drive, wipe out my will to go on and just say, "I don't know anymore." When he skips his pills, I feel that he is making selfish decisions. He is putting himself at risk and that will mean more health trouble. But who knows. Another thing that bugs me the most is that he cares so much about the money. He is scared of draining out our savings (well, there isn't a lot). I'd tell him it is none of his business. I will take care of it even though I don't really know where to source those funds. I just know that I can look after those. His primary role is to be healthy and to stay positive. But then he'd come back to me and say, "I am positive. I am positive that it (this cancer) sucks."

His humor is an indication that we'll be okay one day. That we will beat this thing.

Heaven knows how sad it is to go through this with John and I am the only one here. No family, no friends. It can be lonely. In case you didn't know, I am still dealing with my dad's death. But as I have mentioned, I have to be the tougher cookie this time. I can't allow our happy marriage to be ruined by cancer. Worse, by petty disagreements. We don't really argue.

I guess, what I am trying to get at is that, I am finally able to admit that I am not the solid egg shell as you've perceived me to be. I am afraid to lose him and it's been killing me all along. There are days that I feel so bummed out and I just try to overlook things because the realities of income generation can't be affected by anything related to emotions. I am also an upcoming entrepreneur, a web marketing manager and I am trying to  balance things out: his welfare, our marriage and my future. 

My weight has been going down. Probably because of loss of appetite. I feel that my maturity levels accelerated the past two to three months. I've discovered the ability to love beyond what I thought was my limit. I've seen inner strengths that never manifested in my younger years. I think that's what real love does to people. When they find it, when they find the "one."

As I have shared here, "My life's game plan right now is to make sure that he's the happiest person on Earth everyday. I've been doing that for the past three years but I will explore more ways on how to do so. If you see me smiling at work or anywhere, it is because every minute of the day, thoughts of him and our memories would play rewind and remind me that I have to be stronger. It is unnecessary to be emotional. It is unimportant to be dramatic. It is of grave importance that my head is free from "head stuff" and mini-movies and stay on top of things. This way, I can help him chart things out and together, we can make better decisions."

If you're reading this blog, please give your man an extra hug. I will go and give mine a thousand. :-)