Your cancer is NOT my problem. Real time (Dec 2012)

I am trying to bring about some resolution in my life. I am trying to forgive. I am finding it very difficult. Those who know me, know that I am a breast cancer survivor. I have had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. I had alot of complications with my initial surgery prompting multiple procedures to correct the problems. I was 33 when I was diagnosed. I am 38 now. I have had more surgeries than I can count since then, my last surgery was Feb 6 of this year for uterine/ovarian/cervical tumors. I am tired, tired of being cut into. Hopefully this is the last of it. Anyway, On Christmas Eve morning 2012, I went for an ultrasound to figure out what was going on with me internally, after suffering for months from bleeding & debilitating pain. Before I could even drive home the doctor was calling me. He told me it did not look good in there, I was unhealthy, gave me some options, said a total hysterectomy and removal of my remaining left ovary was the best scenario. I already knew this was coming, but the fact that he called me Christmas Eve, before I even got home worried me significantly. I should preface this by saying I am in the medical field. We don’t make those calls unless there is something significant going on. I had already had blood work and my CA-125 was elevated. (For layman, it’s a cancer marker) So I am on my way to Christmas dinner with my family. We had been through so much in the last few years, between my own surgeries, my grandparents being sick and passing away within a week of each other the year before and the exhaustion of the holidays without our foundation, it just wasn’t the time to tell them what I had just learned. I held it in. I text my boyfriend at the time who was working but going to come over after work to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with me before going to his family’s house. I cleaned my house, showered, lit candles, put the brand new sheets I had gotten on my bed and changed into the new Victoria Secret lingerie I had been given. I had purchased him a very expensive watch for Christmas and because we had gone through some very difficult times, I chose not to have them set his watch so that we could set it together. I wrote this very heart felt card about setting the watch and from that point on only looking forward to our future together. I hid the watch in the tree with the card, excited for him to find it. I did all of this while knowing in the back of my mind that I may have cancer again and was going to have to have major surgery. Maybe it was a form of denial, maybe I was just trying to get through the holiday. I just wanted something normal. I waited for him to arrive. When he finally got there, he was intoxicated, hungry, slurring his words. He didn’t notice the candles or me for that matter. He brought wings to heat up and eat. My house went from smelling like vanilla, to chicken wings. I was frustrated but trying to go with it. He brought the wings into my bedroom, sat on my new sheets and flipped on the TV. I was livid. I asked him if he had any interest in his surroundings, namely me in Victoria Secret lingerie. He said “in a minute, I’m hungry”. He ate. I sat. When he finished, he took the wings into the kitchen and came straight back to bed, slid his clothes off, laid down and looked at me. I asked if he could wash his hands and brush his teeth…I was completely crushed. I wanted to be held, made love to, forget. We attempted to make love, why I don’t know, it was unsuccessful. The next morning I wanted to tell him what happened with the doctor. My voice was shaking and cracking. I hadn’t said it out loud yet, hadn’t processed it. I began to cry. His exact words and I quote were “Your cancer is NOT my problem, I don’t want to talk about that right now, that is what your friends and family is for”  I couldn’t believe it. This man was supposed to love me. He was supposed to BE my friend. He said he couldn’t ask me to come with him to his family’s house because he didn’t know how they felt about me. He walked out the door and left. I never got to give him the watch that day. I’m glad. I felt like a fool. I was alone Christmas morning, crying at the thought that I was having yet another surgery and the man that I loved and wanted to start a life with was cruel and undeserving. I was going to have to go through this on my own. I will say that he has since apologized for this incident. We ARE NOT together. But nothing will ever take away the cruelty of that moment and  I can not forgive him.


3 thoughts on “Your cancer is NOT my problem. Real time (Dec 2012)

  1. I’m sorry you had such a lousy experience. Not to excuse the boor’s response, but here’s my story. Hope it helps you accept that he wasn’t rejecting you, but his fear of taking on a caregiver role.

    My husband of 33 years had leukemia. I stayed with him in the hospital (leaving our daughter with other family for 40 days to be there for his care). I held him while he went through violent tremors; I gave him sponge baths, I would make 3-4 meals at a time, trying to find something that he could eat with his mouth sores. I put up with his angry moods and his silence for days. I gave him enemas, for Pete’s sake! For 12 months, I fully devoted my life to his care.

    Just 6 weeks after he went back to work, fully in remission that has now lasted 4 years, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of sarcoma (connective tissue cancer) that required a jaw transplant, a temporary feeding tube and a temporary trache. Unable to move because they used my fibula to rebuild the jaw, unable to eat, reliant on someone to regularly clean out my trache tube so I could breathe, and able to speak only in a whisper, I was too “high needs” for a temporary care facility so they sent me home, with home health care visits scheduled every 3 days, fully expectant my husband would step in.

    The medical supply company did not show up with trache supplies, or formula for my feeding tube. Gasping for breath, I wrote a note to my husband and told him I needed his help. He stopped scrubbing the laundry room floor long enough to say, “Never, ever compare your care for me to my care for you. Thanks for what you did, but I am tired and I am just not going to do it. You will have to figure it out for yourself.” And he went back to scrubbing.

    I was shocked and so angry at him. If I could have, I would have gotten off the couch and fled in my pajamas! Instead I Emailed a friend and asked her to call the medical supply company and track down the supplies. She came and got us through that first, horrid night.

    In retrospect, I realize he was terrified, even more so than I was. He had no idea how to care for me – nurturing is not his nature. So he did something he did know how to do — scrub the laundry room floor.

    Thankfully, I recovered and no longer had the desire to beat him to death when I had my strength back. Over time, my physical and this emotional wound have healed, but very little has changed with regard to his caring for me. He has been with me on the day of all of my surgeries, but then returns to work. I have found friends and other family to sit with me during the long (as much as 2 week) hospital stays and to help nurse me back to health at home, Others come to the house and do my housework, bring us food, mow the lawn (always been my job).

    We will have been married 38 years this September. Would I marry him again? Probably not. But, without these last 5 years of illness, my answer would have been different. He has stuck with me “in sickness,” in the best way he knows how. He keeps his distance, and I have learned to rely on friends and family who, frankly, are much better caregivers than he could ever be, which leaves him space to love me in the ways he does best.

    1. WOW! That is an incredible story!! I know within my heart that the reason he pulled back ad reacted that way was fear. It’s funny how illness can bring out the very best or very worst in one’s character. I appreciate so much you sharing that with me!!!! All the best to you in your journey!! & I am sorry for the delayed response, just getting my head together.

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