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My wife is almost done with chemo

TheBear's picture
TheBear
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2004

Hello everyone. I'm Bear. I'm writing because I feel alone and helpless at times. My lovely wife has spent the last year battling cancer and is the strongest and bravest person I've ever met. She is my hero. Since her diagnosis, I've never felt to helpless. I would sever a limb for her and I often wish there was more I could do other than house chores and keeping up with the bills.

I feel overwhelmed everyday by emotions of fear and helplessness as I watch her suffer in pain. I often wish I could trade places with her so she wouldn't have to suffer through the effects of the chemo treatments. I know that I couldn't handle the pain better, I just don't want HER to be the one going through it.

I cry a lot. I don't know if it's self-pity or just plain, flat out depression. She's so close to being done with her treatments and the oncologist says that she definately has been given a second shot at life. We are overjoyed by this! But I still have my bouts of crying and still feel like I can't do enough for her. Is this normal? In light of such good news of her recovery I still rattle with fear.
I'd sure like to hear anyones thoughts...I guess what I need is for someone to tell me that it's going to be okay and that "cracking" emotionally is expected.

beep
Posts: 18
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi Bear. Sorry it took so long for someone to respond. You are a great man to love your wife the way you do. I know how hard this is, believe me, I've been a caregiver to my Dad who is battling colon cancer that has now spread to his brain. I know about the crying and helplessness. But you have to start enjoying each day. You can't keep thinking it is over now. The doctor said you have been given a second chance and you have to take it. No none knows how long ANY of us will be here. I'm sure you get this speech all the time, but it is true. Just enjoy her and cherish her every day, like you are doing. She is so lucky to have you love her so much. I know you would trade with her if you could, and not many people have that sort of love of their spouse, so you are very special to have that. That is the best thing you can give her. If you really feel like you are cracking, maybe you could try an antideppressant for a short time. I don't like to take pills, but I've been on them before for a while, just to help me through a rough time. So lots of prayers to you and I am not sure if I helped at all, but I hope I did just a tiny bit. Enjoy every day.
Lee Ann

TheBear's picture
TheBear
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2004

Thank you for your kind words, Beep. There's nothing "great" about me--I wish that hugs would solve it all. I wish that the more I hugged her, the better she got. I'd never let her go...I'd hug everyone undergoing chemo in that room.

I've met many amazing people at the clinic; like my wife and many of you on this message board, you all personify strength, courage, and hope. I'm in awe of the human spirit and am humbled.

My wife is sleeping now and I'm getting teary-eyed again. Thank you again, Beep. I'm going to go look at the angel that said "I do." ten years ago.

StacyGleaso's picture
StacyGleaso
Posts: 1246
Joined: Mar 2003

Hi Bear...

I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer at the age of 33. At that time my kids were 2, 4, & 7. I too have been given a "second chance" at life, as I am going on 3 yrs all clear. Having been on the "patient" side of things, I can tell you that your wife appreciates everything you do. I'm sure you don't feel that what you're doing is enough, but merely being there is a big step. Sometimes, it's not having to actively do anything, but just treat her normal. Cancer robs us of the feeling that we will ever be back to normal (whatever that is!), and it's a good feeling to know that those who love us are close by.

The tears of fear and pain will soon turn into tears of joy. You'll see...

Stacy

TheBear's picture
TheBear
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi Stacy,
Yours is a great story of a terrific comeback, and thank you for your encouragement. 3 years with a clean bill of health is fantastic! I can't remember if someone told me this or I read it somewhere--where people that win their battle with cancer hit a five year mark of being free and clear are statistically likely to have a full life--do yu know if there's any truth to this or have you heard of it?

You ain't kiddin' about what cancer does to lives--it does rob people of everything--especially peace of mind. Our lives are turned upside down and the biggest questions of any future are staggering when you try to face them. I'm very grateful to many people for just being there--a phone call away.

One life lesson I've relearned is to NEVER let a day pass without telling the people you care for how your feel about them. It's so easy to get caught up in the "scheme of things" when the people that are important in ones life are right there in front of you and always have been. I'm glad I found this place. The internet was definately one of the last places I thought I would find any kind of support, but you're all here reaching out, and this entire time I thought I was "working without a net"...thank you.

There's a topic here where a member wanted to make an "official" purple ribbon for ALL cancer survivors. I thought that was a good idea to have something like that as an internationally recognized symbol for people that faced the greatest battle for their lives and won.

Alex

My wife is down to her last cycle (2 treatments) of chemo and the doc is very confident that her next C-scan will be clear. After that, her "regiment" will be reduced to bloodwork every month and scans every three months for the first year, then spaced out for the next five years after

luannt
Posts: 11
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi Bear,

I remember when I had only two more chemo treatments left. I couldn't wait! That was 4 years ago this coming August. So I know how excited and how tired your wife must be now.

She is a lucky women to have such a loving and caring husband by her side. And truly that's what we need at a time like this.

I hope that the both of you will start getting out and having some fun together with family and friends, and laugh and laugh and laugh. You both deserve it.

Luann

TheBear's picture
TheBear
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2004

One more treatment after tomorrow, Luann! After her last scan months ago showed that the cancer was almost wiped out, I haven't been able to get this stupid grin off my face...even though we both knew there was still some rough road ahead, just knowing that she was winning lifted a huge burden. Tough weekend coming up but we're down to the wire. When it's over and my better half feels well enough to travel in a few months, we're off to Universal Studios where I will become a big child. It feels good to be able to make plans like that again. I think I've found my smile--I thought I'd lost it forever...now where did I leave that laugh?
Thank you!

Alex

kangatoo's picture
kangatoo
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Hiya Alex.My wife Jen is my carer and if not for her I think I would have fallen totally apart.I have colon cancer and am 4 months in remision after doing 6 months chemo.5 years is along time to wait for a "possible" all clear.As Stacey said--this disease really robs us of the feeling of ever being " normal" again--unfortunatelt thats the way it is.Your obvious deep love for your wife is something to really cherish mate!I have a word for all carers--male or female--"angels"--because we know that you are suffering as much as the loved ones you care for.
Hey mate--I cry heaps--in fact Jen and I cry together--then look at each other and have a laugh, thinking we are both a pair of emotional idiots.Then we laugh again and remember that to share laughter and crying together is SO NORMAL for 2 people so much in love--after almost 30 years of marriage.
Alex--do not be afraid to be emotional in front of your wife--she knows your feelings and that showing emotion is not a sign of weakness.It only confirms to her the love that you have.
Be aware that towards her last chemo session her emotions will possibly change.This is a kind of release "reaction".In some ways many of us fear that ceasing chemo will take away our " safety net" and this is expressed emotionally--I know--I cracked up big time on my last day of chemo--a REALLY strange reaction!
Our very best to you and your loving wife,
Hope and faith is what we all must muster,
kanga n Jen from "down under"

TheBear's picture
TheBear
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2004

Howdy Kanga (and my best regards to your wife the Guardian Angel),

Well today at exactly 1:51pm in the southwestern United States a plastic bag containing a photo-sensitive chemo drug that was "hooded" within another dark brown bag emptied into a tough young lady and the I.V. machine beeped for the last time for my wife...today she completed her sixteenth treatment of A.B.V.D. and smiled.

I am astounded by how things in life cycle themselves. It was on a Friday afternoon over nine months ago when we were told that the "tissue block" that was surgically removed from my wife was malignant and our lives were turned upside down as questions of our future came hand-in-hand in a cyclone of emotions--a tidal wave of dispair, fear, and confusion. Once again on a sunny Friday, another cyclone has come; but this time we are swept high on the wings of joy and hope.
The sound of that machine beeping blindsided me big time and I couldn't shut off the leak in my eyes!

Thank you for sharing your story and for your words of encouragement, Kanga. I am humbled by your compassion and bravery--we hope your cancer stays in remission and "the thunder from down under" that we hear is the roar of your laughter as you two soar on the same wings and the heavens smile.

--Alex

jsabol's picture
jsabol
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hey Alex, Welcome to the survivors' room to you and your wife. She is lucky to have such a caring husband, but I bet she knows that by now. I'm also a visitor from the colon cancer board, stage III....just finished my 6 months of chemo on July 9, (Yippee!!!!!) with scans due in October and the dreaded colonscopy in Nov. We hope the surgery "got it all" and that the chemo takes care of any sneaky cells.
What you heard about 5 years is correct. At that point if any cells left from the original disease have not resurfaced, you are "cured". Just to make me a little more nervous, my onc has said that for my type of cancer, the first 2 years are the riskiest.
Meanwhile, I am trying to appreciate each day, even though I was officilly let go from my job of nearly 6 years the day that chemo was completed. They didn't want to wait another 6 weeks for me to return. Well, the old me would have been pretty distraught. The revised me knows that there are more important things to worry about.
Sorry I didn't respond earlier, but I am an infrequent visitor to this board.
Congrats, go celebrate and get on with your life together. Hope your sadness and worry lift; if not, the suggestion for meds might be worth looking into. Regards, Judy

TheBear's picture
TheBear
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2004

Dear Judy,
I hope they got it all too! Everyone on this board as a survivor, current warrior in their battle for life, and caregiver has been walking the tight rope for too long...constantly focusing on that fragile balance between joy and sorrow, and going the distance to what we all hope to ultimately be the rest of our lives.

Not a day passes without us counting our blessings...friendships old and new that have been forged into steel by our trial by fire. Some days there aren't enough "o's" in smooth, and smiles and laughter come easily, other days are just rough and it's a struggle from one moment to the next. Be it a good day or a bad one, it is a day worth living and walking that rope is sometimes like waking "The Green Mile" in that book by Stephen King. There's a line in that story that I'll never forget since it holds true for everyone on this earth: "In life, we all owe a death."...but for you, my wife, and everyone here, NOT NOW---NOT SO SOON, DAMN IT! We'll walk across that tight rope the rest of our lives, but we'll keep our balance...every day, every moment...The Green Mile is a thousand years away, and we'll walk it when we're damn good and ready.

uglyowl
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2004

Alex,

Congrats on your wife finishing her last chemo. I usually don't go to the emotional support thread, but wandered in here and saw your post.

I would imagine since she is on ABVD she was diagnosed with Hodgkins, right? I think that is all it is used for. Anyhow I was diagnosed, stage 3, in Feb. 2004 and understand everything you guys are going through, it is so tough.

Talking with people who are and have went through it has been so helpful for me. Things have gotten better as time has passed, but things are still tough.

If you have any questions or anything my e-mail is jrollo@direcway.com

Congrats again on finishing....I have 11 treatments down (ABVD) and one to go!

- Joe

TheBear's picture
TheBear
Posts: 12
Joined: Jun 2004

This is like "Animal Night" on the Discovery Channel with our forum names, Joe--owls and bears everywhere.

Yep Hodgkins. And I'm very happy for you that you're down to your last treatment! An accomplishment that is worthy of a standing ovation.

Looking back over the months one of the hardest memories for me to face was when my wife's hair started to fall out. I remember when she would get out of the shower I could hear her crying behind the door as she brushed her hair. Of course when she came out of the bathroom this tough little lady had regained her composure. Then I would go into there and see so much hair in her brush, all over the counter, and I would go about unclogging the drain. I fell apart every time--crying my eyes out and almost unable to breathe.

There came a point when I had gotten home from work and she had bought a pair of barbers shears and asked me to shave all her hair off because it was just too traumatic for her to see so much hair loss on a daily basis...shaved her hair down to a "G.I. Jane". Fortunately, my wife has a flawlessly shaped head.

When she went to another room I took the shears to my own mellon to show my solidarity. After all, if my sweetheart can't have hair, neither can I. My noggin isn't as nice as hers...lots of dents in it. If I stood out in the rain, puddles would form on the top of my head and mosquitos will probably start breeding if I stood still long enough.

It's unbelieveable how much cancer alters our lives. You learn not to take anything for granted, and everything takes a back seat to recovery. A long drawn-out process.
There were so many medications for the pain and nausia sitting on our kitchen counter--morphine sulfite, Oxy IR, zofran, compazine, Oxy 40ml's. We're just happy to have most of them cleared off into the cabinet.

We still have a long road, but at least we'll be walking it together. I hope you kicked your cancer's ass, Joe! And I hope your recovery from all those treatments is a speedy one. We've got the rest of our lives waiting for us---cheers and HOOOOOOAH!!!

Alex

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