I remember that first 24 hours after learning my husband had cancer I was continuously scrolling through Instagram hashtags and Pinterest boards looking for help. I had barely gotten the whole wife thing down and now I was nose to nose with a life changing task. Dylan was diagnosed on July 14, 2017 and that September was our two year wedding anniversary, so when I mean barely got the wife thing down I really mean we were fresh in our marriage. So the best way to search for help as a millennial is to take to social media. All I was looking for was one story, somewhere I could find comfort that yes it sucks your husband has cancer but you will get through this and this is how. I’m not sure if I just was not looking in the correct place or what but I did not find ONE post, blog, or story on how to handle your spouse’s diagnosis. I was shocked, here it is the year 2017 and there has not been another wife like me, just searching for comfort, the hardest thing his family and myself struggled with was the lack of a great big yellow Cancer for dummies book. There was no guidelines saying how to react or get through what felt like a game ender. So when we collectively decided for me to quit my job as a private nanny and I was flirting with the idea of blogging it was very important to me to write a blog post on how I found strength and peace in my husband’s cancer diagnosis.
If I am able to portray a single piece of advice out of this entire post if only one thing sticks I hope it is that the energy you put out into the universe is the energy you will receive. I have been questioned so many times by friends and family on at 21 how can I make it look so effortless,
“Your husband has cancer how are you so positive?” .
I’ll tell you how its possible, you have to find strength within yourself, I can only speak for my own marriage but we live a very gender role specific life (my husband brings home the bacon and I make BLT’s) so when he was diagnosed I knew that it was my turn to be the strength in our marriage. I now had to be the back bone to ensure him that everything is going to be okay and that we will make it while he is receiving treatment. I knew what needed to be done and a switch was triggered inside of me, okay Caitlyn its time to buck up and get shit done, this man has taken care of you for 6 years and now its your turn. This is not to say that I have not had my fair share of break downs, I cry ALOT and that’s okay. The most beautiful person I have ever met was given an extremely unlucky hand and as a wife all I wanted to do is take his pain. But through the crying and the pain having a positive “we are going to knock this cancer thing out” kind of attitude it has made the sucky days suck a little less and the good days that much more precious. As a wife when you portray determination and positivity it never fails that the people that surround you absorb that positivity and determination.
Have a cancer buddy, this is a crucial part of what has kept me sane. Through the diagnosis and treatment process you will be faced with a flood of family wanting to lend a hand or an opinion, and having a third party person is key to your sanity. This might sound extremely strange but being able to have that third party person to just break down to is really important in keeping your mind healthy and sharp. I know it sounds horrible but I lucked out, my cancer buddy knew the cancer process because she helped her mom through her cancer battle. I can never thank her enough for the support she has given me. The hardest day so far was Dylan’s 22 birthday. We had just finished our first cycle of chemo and he couldn’t get out of bed. I remember just sitting in the living room bawling (like ugly bawling) because it was his birthday and I wanted to make it special. My cancer buddy was able to talk me through my breakdown and gave me some reassurance that everything was going to be okay. Having that person that is just yours makes a difference, she is no way attached to anyone else in this just me she is 100% for me, and in a time that you are giving your all to care for someone having someone with the sole purpose of being YOUR support is crucial.
This next tip might not fit everyone’s situation but for me it really helps, fall on your faith for strength. I have always had strong faith and knew that when I needed him God would be there for me. On the days when I would wake up still exhausted from not getting any sleep on the hospital room couch and it took every inch of my being not to just throw the towel in I found strength in God. It is emotionally exhausting trying to process everything and watch your best friend struggle with the cards given to him. The overwhelming amount of prayers given by friends and family was so comforting and I made it a priority every morning to set aside 15 minutes to sit down with a devotional and a bible. It blew me away that every time I opened my devotional that the message for that day seemed to speak directly to our situation. Having faith that God gives his strongest warriors the hardest paths to me was comforting. I am a firm believer that you are put earth side with your life already written out. Every path is already chosen and it leads you to right where you are suppose to be. I find a great relief in that, that I am right where I am suppose to be and God will never do me wrong.
The last piece of advice ill give that might seem out of left field is enjoy the time together. We were extremely blessed to have the opportunity to both not have to work. So what this means is we get to spend everyday together and get to fight this thing as a team, take this shitty situation and enjoy the opportunity it has given you. I now get to live the easy life while taking care of this shitty situation.
I hope that this was able to shed a little light in such a dark time. Remember to keep your strength because being your spouses caregiver is a hard job but you too will get through this. Believe in your self.