Today’s #marchmeetthemaker prompt: ‘learning curve’ - I sat down to think about what a learning curve has been for me, and I suppose my husband having cancer would have to be one. Content warning for this post: I discuss cancer/loved ones being unwell and also anxiety and depression. Note, in case you’re not up-to-date with the Will-having-lymphoma saga, he is going to be okay.
Will (my husband) was diagnosed with lymphoma last October. I almost feel too tired to talk about it these days, and it also simultaneously still feels a bit surreal. I know a lot of my followers have listened to Will’s and my podcast about it (if not, link in bio - shameless plug), but I haven’t really WRITTEN anything about it here. So, here’s a thing I wrote a few weeks ago… I feel a little self-conscious putting this out there, the first few sentences may come across as me being insensitive, but if you read to the end I promise it all ties in. This was actually recorded as one of our podcast episodes, but here it is in written form.
I always thought *I* would be the one who got cancer. Ever since I was a kid, I have kind of expected to find out I have some kind of life-threatening illness.
I’m also the one in our family who is always sick, with colds, mastitis (SIX TIMES), kidney stones, strained muscles, dermatitis, migraines, depression and anxiety. In fact, I have a cold as I write this.
Don’t get me wrong, I always thought something terrible would happen to Will (as I mentioned, I have anxiety and for me that manifests in constantly expecting terrible things to happen to my loved ones). As a side note: living with anxiety is EXHAUSTING.
But my worries about Will were more along the lines of expecting him to be hit by a car or coward punched at the pub - the kind of worry that goes away when he is home safe.
Unfortunately, despite having THE MOST overactive imagination, it never occurred to me that Will would or could get cancer. As Will and I have discussed countless times, he already has T1 diabetes, so he couldn’t get sick with anything else, right? It turns out my brain had prepared me for every OTHER worst case scenario, but not this particular one.
I clearly remember on his 26th birthday, Will went to the GP ON. HIS. OWN. to find out - I had to pick up kids.
He called me from the carpark and told me the tests were ‘positive’ so I was like…’positive as in good, OR, positive as in you have cancer?’
Unfortunately it was the latter. After that phone call I think he came home, his mum Michelle came over to babysit, and we got ready to go bowling for his birthday.
Since that moment, life has been a blur: I have been on autopilot since then.
Flash forward three or so months, and I can remember basically nothing, other than a blur of doctors appointments, tests and exhaustion.
I cried more BEFORE we knew he had cancer, we just suspected it and he was undergoing countless tests, than since actually getting the diagnosis - I haven’t had time!
Maybe just once or twice I have gotten sad, so people probably think I am stone cold and don’t care, but really we all just have different ways of coping with stuff. Also antidepressants help too.
I couldn’t tell you if life has actually changed during this time - from the outside it might not look like it, we still do all the same things, and some people don’t even KNOW that this is going on.
When your husband has cancer, what is ‘normal’ in your life quickly changes - if you asked me six months ago, I could NOT have told you that we would know some of the oncology staff on a first name basis, and that we would know where the cancer clinic even was. I am incredibly, incredibly lucky that Will is going to be ok.
His cancer is treatable, the doctors didn’t even seem overly concerned (again, please listen to our podcast from the beginning for more context about this, I feel like I am leaving out lots of detail). I don’t know if I could articulate right now what I have actually LEARNT from this learning curve, maybe in a few months or even a few years. But a few key take-aways from this have been a reevaluation of what MATTERS, what our priorities are, not taking each other for granted, not taking our health for granted, and honestly I couldn’t put it in a more cliche way, but making the most of our time together.
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