Divorce vs. Cancer, by Mary Beth

January 20, 2012

I have not blogged on this site in quite some time. I just had my 5 year and 6 month check-up and I am good, a few minor problems but let me emphasize minor. The past year has been a very difficult and trying one. After 28 years of marriage I found the courage to ask for a divorce.

I have always been afraid of divorce. I am not sure if it was because I was so young when we met. If I was afraid of being alone… which is a funny concept because I have felt alone for much of my marriage. I was afraid of what others would think. I was afraid of the kid sharing. I was afraid that once I asked for a divorce he would not support us. I was worried about money, which is also a funny concept because I was worried about money with him too….probably more so. I was afraid because he was my first love. I was afraid to have to try to meet someone else to spend my life with and now even more so as a cancer survivor, with a double mastectomy. I was afraid because I love the idea of marriage and family and I desperately wanted to have a long-term marriage and a good family life for my kids.

We had talked about divorce many times and in fact were very close in 2006 and then the cancer diagnosis. We stayed together, but in hindsight I think that was the final nail in the marriage coffin… thank goodness in was not the final nail in my coffin. I learned so many lessons from my cancer, mostly what is truly important. It changed me in so many ways. I guess I thought it would change the others close to me too. I have learned that just because we learn lessons, it does not mean everyone else does. So many times after the cancer I felt like the glorified nanny and housekeeper. There were many issues that I could not talk about then, that I hope someday I can share in case other women experience the same with their marriages.

Over the past 5 years since my diagnosis, those that knew of my marital problems would say “you survived cancer, you can survive divorce”. I heard what they were saying, but I just could not find that courage. I felt cancer was different. I had a team of doctors that I trusted. They said “do this” and I knew I would do it and follow their directions to the letter. There is no trust in divorce… another funny thought because there was no trust in my marriage either. I was not blessed with being able to trust those who are supposed to love and protect you.

I was so afraid of asking for a divorce and then having my cancer come back, what would I do? I don’t know if my cancer will come back, but I know if I stayed it definitely would. I found the courage. Divorce is hard, but cancer is harder.

On the tough divorce issue days I think of the other Mothers on this site who are fighting their cancer daily, hourly and by the minute. I think of the women that we have lost and their valiant fight, they remind me everyday what is truly important and then I remind myself… “if I survived cancer… then I can survive divorce.”

Please say a prayer or lots of prayers and healing thoughts for one of our fearless and amazing leaders, Susan, she has been having some breathing and pain issues and was admitted to the ER on Tuesday.

aware of the irony

November 9, 2009

Life is funny.

This morning was perfect weather for a bike ride. The sun was out and the temperature climbed to 17C (that’s 62.6 in American). It was my first time on the bike in more than a week – since before the plague toppled my family, like a series of dominoes.

It was a fun ride, and I didn’t even mind the big hill I have to climb on my way to the hospital. I arrived twenty minutes after I set out, a little sweaty and with my heart pumping. As I locked up and headed into the cancer centre, I noted with pleasure that I hadn’t been coughing.

“It feels good to be healthy.”

I very nearly said it out loud.

I was suddenly struck by the absurdity of my situation. Here I was, going to get my bloodwork done the day before chemo and thinking about how healthy I am.

Three years ago, at almost exactly this time of year, I learned that my cancer had become metastatic. I don’t think I could have imagined this day, when I’d be riding my bike up Smythe Rd. and thinking about how healthy I am.

So, as I was saying at the beginning of this post – life really is pretty funny.

Cross-posted to Not Just About Cancer.

bone loss: a public service announcement

September 18, 2009

I have been reading Cancer Fitness by Anna L. Scharwtz. I’m only a few chapters in, but the book has already taught me some important things.

I don’t tend to devote a lot of thought to preventing bone loss but I did know that regular weight-bearing exercise helps prevent bone loss and to build strong bones. And while I walk and run (just finished the Running Room‘s beginner program again), I really don’t do any strength training (or core work, for that matter, despite repeated promises to myself).

Cross-posted from Not Just About Cancer.

The women in my family tend to have strong bones (and good bone density) but what I didn’t realize was how many factors put me at risk:

  • early menopause, as a result of chemotherapy.
  • doxorubicin (Adriamycin, the infamous “red devil). I had 6 rounds (this is also the drug that temporarily damaged my heart).
  • decadron and other steroids (I had higher doses with the first 6 rounds of chemo but I still get decadron through IV with every chemo treatment, to help mitigate side effects).
  • lorazepam (Ativan, which I use only occasionally for insomnia. I had absolutely no idea that it caused bone loss)
  • regular consumption of caffeine.

And I don’t drink very much milk, either.

Remember, that promise to myself I made in January? Well, I have not made as much progress as I would like. So, I signed up for a fitness class at my local community centre that incorporates core work and strength training (since the free weights, stability ball and exercise bands don’t seem to be doing much more than collecting dust) to get myself started. Now, I have another reason to get to it.

I also took a calcium supplement today for the first time in months. Those suckers are horse pills but I think I need to get back into the habit of choking them down.

What are you doing to prevent bone loss?

Cross-posted from Not Just About Cancer.

New and Improved! Now even better than before!

October 28, 2008

That’s me.  New and Improved.

The obvious, of course, is that experts have worked hard to remove all cancer from my body.  As a result, I am now Cancer Free.  And we all know that the less ingredients something contains the more it is worth. Today, however, I received an unexpected upgrade.

This afternoon I had my optometrist appointment.  The first one in a little over two years.  I hadn’t really remembered much from my last appointment.  My main goal is always to get my contact prescription refilled and get on with my life.  But that particular year, 2006, I was in the midst of breast cancer treatment.  I had just finished 8 rounds of dose dense chemotherapy, had just had my first single mastectomy and was regaining my strength in anticipation of 6 months of oral chemo in concert with 6 weeks of radiation therapy.  In short, I had other things on my mind than my eyes.  So I was a bit nonplussed when Dr. E asked if my cataract had been bothering me.

I didn’t even remember I had a cataract.  Once he said it, though, it all did sound vaguely familiar.  Something about a very small developing cataract that we were going to keep an eye on…

At any rate, Dr. E settled in to begin my exam.  “Let’s get a look at that fading near vision.” He says as he hands me a card with impossibly small letters on it.  As he logged my results in my chart it was his turn to look a bit confused.  It seems my near vision is better now than it was two years ago.  I reminded him that I had been in the midst of chemo last time and under a significant amount of stress to boot.  Perhaps that had effected my eyesight.  He was skeptical.  “Maybe… but that has never been my experience.”

Whatever, I know what stress can do.  A bit of blurred vision is the least of the possibilities.

Then he moved on to “get a look at that cataract”.  Only he couldn’t find it.  You read it correctly.  He looked and he looked.  He used about three different lights and all but crawled inside my eyeball his own self.  Seems I no longer have a small developing cataract.

Dr. E is such a jovial man.  It was wonderful to see him all but scratch his head and smile while he said that it just must have been the chemotherapy because there certainly wasn’t any cataract now.  He declared me “Too perfect.  More perfect than last time.”  and sent me on my way.

A little over two years ago I had Inflammatory Breast Cancer, a small cataract, fading near vision, and cough-variant asthma.  Today I am cancer free, cataract free, have perfect near vision and no asthma issues to speak of.  I’m a advertiser’s dream!

More importantly, I am blessed beyond measure.

Cross posted at I Can’t Complain Any More Than Usual

2 years and counting

October 21, 2008

Yesterday was my 2nd anniversary of the end of chemotherapy. I’ve had 668 days on this Earth since my cancer diagnosis. Each and every one of those days has been a gift and a blessing. Even the ones when Danny made ungodly messes on the floor. And the ones that required extra parental patience. And especially the ones where God’s presence was paraded in front of me like a slide show of perfection.

I can’t imagine not having spent these last 668 days with my kids and Daddy-O. And I am blessed to be spending the last few months with you. That being said, I’m finally beginning to lose that waiting for the other shoe to drop feeling. I’m starting to feel like I just might stick around for a while.

My mom and I were talking about just that topic this morning on my way to work. About how neither of us ever really worried about ourselves while undergoing treatment. All our resources were utilized worrying about our children – me with Ben and Danny; she with me.

Isn’t it odd that neither of us worried about our own mortality? Today is the first we’ve spoke on this particular topic, yet we have matching views. I know from my dad’s death when I was 14 that dying is the easy part. Being left behind is where all the hard work is. I guess we both figured we’d be pretty good at dying so there was nothing to worry about there. Ha! Who ever thought “dying well” would be a necessary skill set?

However, my new goal is “living well”. It looks much better on a resume, anyway.