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The Role of Loneliness in Our Cancer Battle and With Our Spouses

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Cancer can be such a lonely, isolating disease. Many of us in our lives have seen friendships and relationships dissolve as a result. Nothing really changed in your relationships, other than the fact that you became ill. It is how others dealt with it, or more importantly, did not deal with it, that is the crux of the matter.

The people in our lives, unable to comprehend the consequences of our affliction, begin to seek higher ground and to distance themselves from you. All of a sudden, what you thought were solid relationships, withered and died on the vine.

They didn’t want to bother you they said, but the truth of the matter is, they simply could not deal with it, so they dialed out of your life. You could not make it go away in their timeframe, so everyone just moved on without you. “We wish you luck” or “Keep us posted” become the buzz phrases of the day. They forgot where you lived and couldn’t remember your phone number. Hmmm…

What I really feel and think, is that these are very convenient and easy to use Exit Lines, that those people can use, to get them to the door – and out from under this new placed, heavy burden they did not ask for or wanted - and it gets them very quickly back to their lives.

What’s that old saying? “Out of sight – out of mind…” Oh yeah, that’s the one.

It’s been said that Tragedy will tell you a lot about the people in your lives and the relationships upon which your life’s foundation have been constructed upon. What’s left in the wake of all of this, after they have checked out on you, are the feelings of Loneliness and Being Alone, at a time when you need support and friendship.

What you feel is “abandonment” at a critical juncture in your life, where you thought you would be blessed with resources. Sadly though, you can find yourself on empty and begin to take stock of who you do have in your life – and who will walk with you through this stage of your life.

Now, we all know that friends, acquaintances, and sometimes family members Come and Go.

But, what about our significant others? How important is the role that they play for you so important? What if they check out on you too?

As most of you know, I’ve always tried to use my experience with Cancer for the benefit of my fellow man. I came to the board seeking “Open and Honest” communication between each other – to get to the heart and truth of the matter, or at least the way that each one of us sees that.

You’ve heard me say many times what I have spent my life searching for – the Truth – the Whole Truth – and Nothing But the Truth. Cut through the rhetoric – now just tell me honestly…no judgments – just seeking and gauging others lives to see how well it does or does not match up to mine.

It’s nothing short of the “age old questions about Life and Relationships.” That’s where the good stuff is – it’s getting people to open up and tell you that is the hard part.

Honestly, how are we ever really going to learn from one another, if we don’t tell the truth?

Cancer “stripped me naked” and laid me bare physically and emotionally, so with all of that exposed, I no longer have anything to hide, nor do I walk in shame about too much that has happened to me. I suppose it’s because it broke down all of the pretenses that I thought I knew and held so dear.

In relationships, I’ve often found many falsehoods – for whatever reason, people have a hard time talking about when their relationships have gone bad, or are not doing very well.

It seems that it must be akin to “admitting failure”, or makes one feel like they are less of a person as a result. Yet, the divorce rate is at its all-time highest, so a goodly majority of the population is really not telling the entire story, are they?

That’s a shame, because we have so much that we can learn from one another – seems it is easier to hide it, or just pretend that everything is alright, so that no one will think there is anything wrong. But, who knows what really goes on “behind closed doors.”

A “Relationship” is one of the hardest things in the world to hold onto and maintain – it takes time and patience, commitment and communication to make it all work the way it’s supposed to. It’s hard enough anyways, but throw in a Cancer Dx and it can change the dynamics in more ways than one.

Hopefully when “bad weather” sets in, as it always does at various stages of our lives, the cornerstones of our most important relationships will hold fast, until the “Winds of Change” have passed.

These are critical junctures as the Storms of Life can either “strengthen or weaken” each other, based on many individual factors, some of which are very unique to each couple involved.

I’ve read so many stories recently about love and connection with each other’s spouses that it got me to start examining my own and coming to grips with what has happened to us over the course of the last 6-years of our battle.

Like many of you, we both started out strong – I was determined to whip Cancer and not let it be the epitaph of my life. Kim stayed by me and took the licks right along with me and she stayed by my side. I’ve offered on numerous occasions to “let her out” of all this and go get herself the man that she deserves, without all of my luggage.

To her credit, she had steadfastly remained. I know I’ve let her down in so many ways – too many to count. Putting her through all of this Cancer mess has made me wish many times that she had not married me, and that she would have found a man with no cancer, who would have brought her the security and a better life, that any woman wants in her life.

Cancer takes such a toll on our spouses as the days turn into weeks – the weeks turn into months – the months turn in to years – string 10 years together, you know what you get? A DECADE of your life wiped out.

Since the tornado in 2000 and through the Cancer Wars into 2010, we both have been physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted with this fight. We’re not the same people anymore – but honestly, WHO would be?

We’re both “TIRED.” Not giving up, but just dead to the world - tired.

We’ve experienced Recurrence and many setbacks over these years, along with many treatments and surgeries. They all just add up over time to suck the very life force out of you. I know I hear many of you talking a similar story and you’re 1 to 2 years into the battle and want it to end so much.

Well, we do TOO!

“When will it end?” is the battle cry of our community. There’s even been whole posts opened for this subject.

I find that for us, the RIFTS always begin when surgery is looming on the horizon – for whatever reason, this stirs up the demons – or maybe it is just our subconscious feelings that begin to awaken as we acknowledge the pitfalls of what lies ahead with surgeries and recovery.

Naivety and Hope gets you up on the gurney the FIRST TIME – that sense of I’ll just do this and all will be alright and get back to “normal.” We all know that one, don’t we? We must, I hear you talking about it everyday up here.

But, as we’ve come to learn, as the surgeries and treatments mount over the years, we are all not so naïve anymore – we know what we are up against – we know how long the recoveries are going to be – we know what the risks are - and we know we left behind just a little bit more of ourselves behind than we did the last time.

Kim and I are an “Army of Two.” We’re only as strong as we can be for each other, on any given day of the week – any given hour of the day. It changes from moment to moment.

We know that the “Calvary is not coming over the hill.” That’s a tough road to hoe, but that’s the cards we’ve been dealt, so we continue to go it alone and hope we get a life somewhere down the road, before the Roll is Called Up Yonder.

Long ago, I became used to the idea of not having friends and family “really” support us. Oh, they want us to keep “them posted.” That way they can gossip about you, and stay emotionally detached, while not having to leave their houses and their lives to help you “One Iota.”

Best I can remember, the “roads run both ways.” But, it’s always us having to go the distance, nobody seems to want to make the effort to stop over or even call or email. But keep us posted, LOL:)

I suppose it’s normal – just human nature – or is it?

I read your stories about your loving families having dinners, coming by to visit, helping out around the house, calling on the phone, etc.etc. So, that argument does not hold water for our families.

What it tells me is that your family cares about you guys – and what a great feeling that must be. I can only imagine and live vicariously through your posts and wish that this were the case for us. Because what it really says to me is your family is saying “You Matter.” Our families are saying “You do not.” Hey, but keep us posted:)

Maybe what Kim and I refer to as “our family” are just too emotionally vacant to be able to do that – or perhaps their lives are in such disarray, they can’t help it – or perhaps they are just to apathetic to know better – or maybe they are just plain “pathetic.” The answer is probably E – “All of the Above.”

I don’t know – what I do know is that it’s not going to change in our lifetimes – so we are all that each other has to get through this Life and get to the finish line.

So, when I see what this Cancer has done to our relationship, it makes me upset and angry – more importantly HURT.

As I’ve stated many times before, prior to me finding the Board, I spent the bulk of my cancer journey, primarily alone. Kim worked night shifts, so we passed like 2 ships in the night – introducing ourselves on the weekends and getting the chores and errands done. It was not her fault – not her choice – she did what had to be done – and I did what I needed to do – we approached Cancer like a business and took the emotional equation away – at least from each other. As long as I portrayed Strength, it made her feel secure.

Now, privately, I know we’ve both had our moments – many moments I’m sure, we just did not talk much about that. I tried to, but that is not Kim’s strong suit, so I let it lay – but it always hurt me that we could not get really “intimate” with our feelings and talk about what it was that each of us was experiencing.

Over the past 6-months since the DaVinci surgery, I have felt us “slipping away” from each other. We started to “grow apart.” It’s a helpless feeling. Sometimes in life, you are unable to help yourself and if you can’t help yourself, you can’t be of much help to your spouse.

And then you find that bickering becomes the norm and you ask yourself the question, “Do I love this person anymore?” More importantly, “Do I want to be with this person anymore?” Now, this is an equal opportunity question, Man to Woman and Woman to Man….or Life Partner to Life Partner.

And when you can’t find compelling reasons anymore – I can tell you, that’s “scary.” You wake up 20 years later and you don’t know who the other person is that is screaming at you. And some days – you don’t wanna’ know anymore, either.

And I think that the emotional side of Cancer and Finances and how it relates to your significant other definitely plays a bigger role than any of us can ever forecast.

Without this added STRESS that has been added to our lives for many years concurrently, I’m sure this would not seem like the case. But, it’s like “water against the rocks.” No matter how strong you are, you can be beaten down with all that Cancer can bring you and your loved ones.

You’ve fought for so many years – been dealt the setbacks – can’t find the answers – more surgeries to do – more finances to incur. It becomes a “ball and chain” that you can hardly drag around with you anymore.

Both of you are just searching to try and find a “peace” in this world. Since you are the only TWO in the room, each of you get the other by “default” and then you begin to take it out on the other one, because the pain is so raw and it hurts so bad – and you can’t see the day when it’s every going to go away. Therein, lies the frustration and the great Truth. It's become the "norm" and you just can't see past the trees anymore.

Things hit a boiling point over the weekend and we finally sat down and “talked” to each other – we actually treated other with civility. That was nice.

Not too long ago, when we knew surgery was going to be the route, Kim had a meltdown. She said something to the effect, “I’m just so sick and tired of this $hit, just hurry up and die. I can’t take it anymore.”

That one STUNG…I stood there and took that one, because I tried to understand her frustration from her viewpoint. Our lives have been derailed by this disease, and she knew that we were going to lose another six months recovering from the new DaVinci surgery. She was boiling over and I was in the way and caught that one between the eyes – but it did hurt me.

Now, before anyone goes bashing Kim – she’s alone too – no friends and her family, 1300 miles away, have abandoned her too, so she’s got nobody to talk to. I often wish that many of you ladies were close by, so she would have a girlfriend “in the know” that she could talk to when she was feeling blue. Another female to be there with her too.

She’s a good woman – a fine lady – a good wife – a hard worker – a good friend. She’s simply HAD ENOUGH and is at the breaking point. She’s had her own health concerns to fret about as well. And she’s not felt well for the longest time.

How much can anyone of us take is open to speculation, and can only be answered by each individual, so please don't judge her harshly and please continue to be her friend and support her too. She needs a friend – and who better than you guys? Let’s give her a big hug…((((((KIM))))))

We all say things that we “regret.”

I just wish I could make her life easier and tell her that this Cancer and surgery business is O-V-E-R. Maybe, this time will be the last. I know we can’t take too much more – and I know my body can’t take too many more of these “surgery wars” either.

Kim was diagnosed with sleep apnea and she was literally not able to sleep for more than a minute or two at a time. She went to a sleep study and finally got to the bottom of it. She would literally stop breathing every minute or two, throughout the night when she went to bed.

You know what happens when you don’t get your sleep – it knocks your whole body out of whack. You’re moody and irritable and not rested. Her legs were swollen and she was bloated. It’s been very hard on her. She was snoring so bad, and was keeping the lights and TV on until all hours of the morning, I could not get my rest. So, I had to move to the guest room, just so I could get some peace and quiet and enough rest to function.

She just received a breathing machine last week, and it seems to be helping her – we’re hoping it will help her continue to get the rest that she needs. She has stopped snoring – I haven’t, LOL:)

So, I’ve moved back into our bedroom last night and we’re together again. We talked last night and broke the ice between us. I got her to say to me:

“I need you.”

And…

“If you died, my life would not be that much better like you think.”

Kim saved my life 6-years ago by calling the nurse and telling her to keep the colonoscopy appointment I had cancelled that day.

I’ve often asked her if she regretted that decision…stay tuned :)

So, what I was trying to say was how “alone” and “lonely” Cancer can make a couple feel and the toll that it can take on your marriage. It’s as tough as the cancer fight itself. And when it’s only the 2 of you against the world, it can indeed feel hollow and isolating at different times of the journey.

Hopefully, Kim will not club me from what I posted – but she is riding along with me and she’s in it too – and I have used personal illustrations from my own life to show the rest of you, what it is that I am feeling at any given moment.

And maybe by seeing me talk about, you might want to talk about it – and if you do not, then you can draw from it, something that might be happening or have happened in your lives.

Love to all of you guys – thanks for listening – you guys are cheaper than a therapist:)

Wish you lived close by, so we could just do something from time to time. It seems the older one gets, the harder it is to find a good friend.

Kim and I are going to be OK:)

Do you have a story that you want to share?

-Craig

AnnaLeigh's picture
AnnaLeigh
Posts: 185
Joined: Jan 2010

This analogy is for all members who are struggling with understanding the emotions and turmoil of diagnosis, treatment, family and society's reaction to cancer.

Just my humble opinion, of course.

Once upon a time we were all landlubbers walking on solid ground and going through our daily lives without a clue as to what a life on the ocean would entail, or what skills would be necessary in order to survive living in a small, individual sail boat while being subjected to the wide-ranging, powerful, and climatic effects of the sea.

Suddenly we have been cast upon the open ocean in our little sail boats with no warning, preparation, tools-of-the-trade, or assistance from the seasoned sailors who have lived this life. Upon first glance, there are too many new skills to learn just to keep our sail boat afloat, much less be able to feed ourselves on a day-to-day basis, or make any headway towards land.

Slowly, out of necessity, we learn which sail to raise; how to steer the boat; how to fish for food; and how to navigate towards safety. All the while we observe others who have been cast adrift at sea trying to manage their individual boats but the communication is limited and advice is of little help because we are all dealing with different oceanic currents, winds, and conditions. Some boats being closer to land and other boats being horribly lost with no indication which direction will bring them ashore.

Waves of different sizes come our way and bring new skills to be learned. Steer into the wind, across the wind, with the tide, against the tide? Who knows?!? This is a learn-as-you-go situation with dire consequences for those who are unable to adapt or who make repeated fatal errors. Black clouds on the horizon could mean any number of things -including "The Perfect Storm" that will indelibly change our lives again with no prediction of the outcome.

We want so badly to throw life preservers and bow-line ropes to others who sail beside us. But in our hearts we know we are of no use to fellow sailors if we are not securely anchored ourselves. Two ships that go down together will be of no benefit to the rest of the armada.

So, we learn when to grip the rudder handle tightly, when to let loose so our boat does not capsize for fighting against the waves and we aim our eyes towards a horizon that offers hope, sunshine and the promise of ports-of-call.

And we learn not to judge other sailors for taking different routes than ours. After all, don't we all want the same thing? To survive our journey intact and learn how to rejoin the landlubbers after viewing the world from our new perspective. Rainbows, warmth, love, affection and connection all have a vivid new meaning for us.

Forgive my misrepresentations of the correct sailing terminology. I am not a Captain of the Sea either.

Aud's picture
Aud
Posts: 480
Joined: Oct 2009

you made me cry...and laugh.

AnnaLeigh...Beautiful.

Oh to be able to scoop everyone up with hugs and kisses to make it all better!! That's the Mom in me. And life isn't like that. (although I do believe in hugs and kisses)

Craig, it's good to open the Forum to another depth, one of which most of have no desire to explore; but necessary in order to survive, thrive, grow.
Holding all of us in the Light,
Aud

tootsie1's picture
tootsie1
Posts: 5056
Joined: Feb 2008

Craig,

You WILL write a book, won't you? I think if you wrote a book of your reflections about what cancer does to a person, it would be a huge hit. You'd have your millions and wouldn't have to worry about whether or not there's money for a needed scan. Do it!!!

My relationship with Bill has been a bit more volatile since the cancer, but we have 34 years in this marriage, and we know a lot about blowing up and then calming down and talking things out. We're here for good.

I do have some friends who "left" me, so to speak, but then I've had others that have come closer.

I love you, Craig. You are such an honest, thoughtful person, and I pray all will be well with you in every way possible.

*hugs*
Gail

Jaylo969
Posts: 827
Joined: Jan 2010

Craig,

Tootsie had a good idea. You could write a bestseller in my opinion. My daughter has encouraged me to do the same thing, but I just haven't a clue as to where to begin.She is graduating in a week, majoring in English/ creative writing, so she says to write what I'm thinking & feeling and she'll put it in order for me. Maybe I will.

I am only 7 months into this particular saga/journey of my life and to be truthful I am getting weary. I so admire all of you who have just kept on keeping on. You are so strong and it makes me more determined to beat this...or at least make it through the chemo. My body is telling me I have had enough of the chemicals...it can't take much more, and then I read about how some of you are having surgeries, reversals, etc. all of which I haven't had to deal with and my shame at my weakness is great.So I trudge on, knowing that although this is going to take a minimum of one year for me, I have to make the best of each day, one day at a time, and I am thankful for each new day.

The loneliness you speak of, the loss of 'friends' and relatives has been such a disappointment to me, too.One day after my surgery a 'friend' of almost 40 yrs. called me on my cell phone in the hospital and upon hearing that I was ill with cancer he gave me his version of the last rites. More or less told me it was okay to go ahead and die and my daughter could " take my place"...whatever the heck that meant! Others, upon hearing that I had cancer surgery told me that they have me on their prayer list.I'm on about 50 prayer lists at last count and you know what? Not a one of them have called or e-mailed me to find out if their prayers are being answered. It has just become a catchy phrase many people use to avoid getting personally involved.No offense to anyone who is for real with their faith and prayers, but these particular jokers ain't real. After much hurt and anger as well, I am at peace with what we sometimes refer to as 'human nature'. Many people get scared S--tless at the mention of cancer and most tend to flee the unpleasant situation. If they stay around they might have to think about their own mortality.It's okay with me now, I truly appreciate the 2 friends I DO have and of course the few in my family that care.

A far as my spouse, he is a keeper:) He is an introvert and nothing has changed on that front. Talking about this cancer stuff isn't his idea of a good conversation.BUT, I absolutely know he is here for me and won't desert me. He is scared too, maybe more than I am because I have an outlet ( this forum ),and he holds it all inside.

Anyway, enough from me. Seriously, if you feel well enough and have the inclination, I think you could do well writing your thoughts AND having them published.

Peace and hope to us all.
-Pat

momma g
Posts: 6
Joined: Mar 2010

Wow, honesty prevails! Craig, I've been reading this board for months without the courage to comment, but your post deserves a response from even a bystander like myself.

Keep writing and sharing because your honestly will give strength to all, to address the truths, ugliness and reality of this disease. Your courage to be honest will only help all of us in the wee hours of the morning when we all suffer. Your words and honesty also bring strength, to stay the course and fight. Thank you.

Brenda3.16
Posts: 211
Joined: May 2009

Craig, You truly are a gifted writer. You seriously should consider writing a book.

I am lucky to have my sister, mother, and a couple of good friends who actually "get it". I don't have the energy at 11pm to start talking about my husband, who has been sleeping for hours. I am sorry that you don't have family support, but you do have all of us. Thank you for the beautiful post.

Brenda

msccolon's picture
msccolon
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

Thank you, Craig, for your honesty. I think you have probably spoken to a large number of us here, struggling along. I have a slightly different perspective. I was married for over 21 years prior to my diagnosis, and the year my marriage fell apart was the year I found out i had colon cancer, and I didn't have a clue as to how hard the battle would be in either case. I said then, and still believe with all my heart, that this battle with the beast would be so much harder had i stayed in that marriage. We all know what a large part stress plays in the weakening of our immune systems, and I had been under a lot of stress for a lot of years. God created me as a very strong and independent soul, and He really knew what he was doing when He did it! I have needed that strength and independence throughout my life, now as much as in prior trials. I too have lost many friends since my diagnosis, and it always hurts. I was just talking to my youngest daughter on Saturday about how lonely I feel sometimes, being a single female, almost 50, attractive, but just not marketable. I live in a very small town and everyone who knows me knows the battle I've been through; they know that I almost died a year ago and I'm damaged goods. I don't even feel like I am able to make a simple "friend" connection with the opposite sex because of this. In her wisdom, she asked me if I would consider counseling. She is so right. These feelings of loss and loneliness have to be dealt with or they will just fester and grow. I am sure much of how I feel is as much in my head as in others'. No matter how independent we are, we humans are by nature social creatures; too much isolation only adds to the stress, something which we already have enough of!

I guess what I'm trying to say is whether we are struggling in a domestic relationship, family relationship, or close friendships, there comes a time when an outside perspective is what is needed to pull everything together. We can't always handle everything just because we WANT to handle them. This media is a wonderful tool, especially when caring and insightful people such as yourself take the time and have the skills to bring to light those subjects closest to our hearts. HOWEVER :) I believe there are limits to this media's ability to meet our deepest needs, the need for real human contact, the ability to see emotion on the face of another human being, and for them to see ours, as we discuss those things that hurt us the most. The comfort and healing that comes from the touch of another as we hug.

When I am in treatment I maintain an online blog for 2 reasons. First, it allows me to get the thoughts out on "paper" so they don't stay in and fester. Second, it allows my loved ones to know what is going on inside my head as well as in my body, without having to worry about "bothering" me when I'm not feeling well. As helpful as journaling is, it is so much more helpful when one of my friends or family members comes to visit, even if it's just to watch me sleep on the couch while they knit or do my dishes or try to talk me into allowing them to vacuum! I know my sisters are available on the phone at any time of day, but there are some things that I can't tell them! Some things that would scare them if they knew. This board is a good place to discuss some of those things, but even then, some things just can't be said. The advantage of a counselor is twofold; they are strangers, and they are professionally trained to get the hard stuff out of you even though you are sure it's buried too deep to come out!

I'm rambling now, so I think I'll close! Take care and I look forward to more posts in this thread!
mary

LOUSWIFT
Posts: 372
Joined: Aug 2006

You search for the truth-a pragmatist. I think you know exactly where it is or you couldn't put it to words. Hope may be eternal but reality hurts so we try to shield those who love us from our demon by pushing them away and questioning what got us as far as we have come...Well said Craig! Lou

robinvan's picture
robinvan
Posts: 1014
Joined: May 2007

...for sharing your experience, vulnerability, and wisdom. And thanks also to others who have shared deeply in response to Craig's invitation.

I think a lot of people honestly don't know how to respond to those of us with life-threatening and life-limiting diseases. Many people are afraid of cancer and honestly don't know how to be present in a helpful way. I have experienced a wide variety of responses from friends, family, and colleagues. Not all positive, but mostly so. Some people have a natural and wonderful capacity to enter into our space and embrace us as always. For those who don't, I don't think it is always that they don't care, but rather they don't know how. It can be difficult.

I find it particularly challenging with colleagues since I am sidelined vocationally. It becomes harder to relate with those for whom the context of our relationship was "work". This is a significant area of loss and loneliness, loss of work, colleagues and all the meaning, purpose, and identity that goes with. (It may ultimately be a "false identity and purpose" but it is often all we have!)

I am lucky in that I have a small group of very good friends who I relate closely to on an individual level. This means I usually have 1 or 2 lunches, coffee's, or walks per week. These are solid intimate relationships with men with whom I share deep connections and spiritual affinities. Soul mates. (if I can say that here!)

Likewise Pam and I have a small group of "couple" type friends who we can rely on for excellent company and social life. And we belong to communities (church and work groups)who provide enough of the broader social contact like Christmas parties and so forth.

Pam and I have a solid relationship and have 3 lovely daughters nearby. They along with their partners are a big part of our lives and we have regular family celebrations for birthdays, anniversaries, and community festivals. There is always something!

Pam "limits" her involvement in my illness by insisting that she is NOT my "caregiver". Not that it limits her stress. She says "I am your wife, NOT your caregiver. You have doctors, nurses, and other clinicians to be your "caregivers". I think she reacts a little too strongly to the word. That said, she does take pretty good care of me! Just don't call her a "caregiver"!

Overall, I've been happy with the pruning that has happened in my various relationships. I do have loneliness, but I also enjoy a healthy sense of "solitude". As an introvert, I can happily go for days without much contact. And I've always got you folks!! Yeah!

'nuff said... Rob; in Vancouver

Kathleen808's picture
Kathleen808
Posts: 2361
Joined: Jan 2009

Craig,
You and Kim have been through so much. Your love and commitment for each other is obviously very strong. I know what you mean by burn out and too much. As you know, Dick was diagnosed in January 2009. However, we have been caring for our daughter with special needs since 1997. We love her more than anything in the world (well the same as her sister :) ) but at times we are totally exhausted. I think we have found what you have found which is at those times you dig deep, go to our faith, reach out to those around us and just hold on until things come back up. Dick and I try to remind each other that we are on the same team, working for a healthy family. We are working toward physical, mental and spiritual health for all of us and we can get there best by working together.
You and Kim are truly amazing for making it this far. I am so happy that you are working things out. You need each other. You are both incredible people.

Thinking of you.

Aloha,
Kathleen

ron50's picture
ron50
Posts: 1729
Joined: Nov 2001

I was probably born with more company than I have ever had,I suspect I will die alone. One of the problems I have had with twelve years of survival is twelve years of ill health. I have coped with it,simply because I have had no other acceptable choice. I have toyed with many of the un-acceptable ones but sanity has managed to just prevail.
My wife literally got sick of me being sick. I can't blame her she carries a lot of baggage from her chilhood and things that her father did that were just so wrong the scars will never fade. I thought she just needed a break but she had found someone else. She is not happy and is sorry to say the least at what she has done to me. We are still friends and she maintains that one day when she gets out of the bad place she is in she will ask me to come home. As much as I love her I don't believe it will happen.
Sooo for the last five years I have lived alone. I don't crave company ,I've had enough physical and mental hurt for one life. Last night just about summed up my life. I've been told by my gp to eat certain foods because they are natural anti-inflammatories. One of the best is New Zealand green lipped mussels. I had some at 8pm last night. By 9pm I was just about unconscious on the toilet floor from non stop vomiting. I was just able to call emergency , triple 0 in aust. The ambulance arrived and i continued to faint and vomit alternatively on the way to the hospital and for the next couple of hours. I eventually cleared everything I'd eaten in the last week and was stabilized with meds then re-hydrated. They were in need of the bed by 3am in the morning so I was put in a cab and sent home. The cab driver asked who was looking after me. I said you are looking at him.
I guess thats the way things were meant to be. I may not be the best person to look after myself but if things go wrong I always know who to blame. Ron.

robinvan's picture
robinvan
Posts: 1014
Joined: May 2007

Ron,
This sounds like my reaction to clams and scallops! Is this a new allergy being discovered? Sounds horrendous!

Rob; in Vancouver

maglets's picture
maglets
Posts: 2593
Joined: Jun 2006

I swear you have some unknown ability to break my heart...

hugs and hugs old colonial you

mags

Eltina21's picture
Eltina21
Posts: 174
Joined: May 2010

Dear Craig,
Your story was very moving. Thank you for writing it. GOD does not make mistakes and as you said Kim is with you in your journey. You two are growing with faith, strength and love. Its okay to vent for this way you are able to move on. I am new to this website and I am very thankful, for here I am able to discuss issues that I cannot discuss with my family. My roomate from college had breast cancer, another friend had bladder cancer and I colorectal cancer. As we go through our different procedures, I just told them that medicine is fixing us up to become the "Bionic Golden Girls." Stay positve and have a wonderful day.

Peace and Blessings,
Karen

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khl8
Posts: 810
Joined: Nov 2009

Craig,
Your post is so true and sadly, all too much of a reality. I have had some of the same issues with my spouse. I am tired, he is tired and this damn beast is so hard to fight. I think that we take the vow " in sickness and in health" we are so naive about what can really happen. At that moment in time when you commit yourself to that one person, you never truly think about what that vow means. The vow should read "in health and when your world turns upside down and you are going from doctor to doctor and surgery to surgery and having poison pumped into your body, when you have horrid mood swings from not feeling well, whenyou cannot have sex because you are tired or too sore, and you never want to leave the house and you are on pins and needles waiting for test results. Then repeat this all when and if you have a reacurance.
THAT is what should be in the marrige vow.
It is hard, I have looked at my spouse and wonder if he can take anymore, then I wonder If I can as well? We have had issues before I got sick and there are days when I wonder if this is how I want to spend the time left that I have on Earth. Don't get me wrong, I love him, but is it enough?
Thanks for being so honest with your thoughts Craig!
Kathy

KathiM's picture
KathiM
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

to both you and to Kim.....caregiving, watching and standing by anxiously, is the worst...

RE:Kim's apnea: My beau was also dx'ed with it, but later...by the time we knew what it was, he suffered from permanent heart damage...sooooo, you saved her life, dear soul!!! And, as a sleep partner to a person with a CPAP machine, I am now so accustomed to the 'white noise' of the air, that it's hard to sleep without it!

I'm always up for a funny one-liner so here goes:

I always say to people, when they know my beau's and my story, 'we should be invited to every party you ever throw! Why???? Because between the two of us, we have the two top killers: heart disease and cancer. So, we reduce the rest of you all's odds by being the one-in-whatever in the stats!'.

BIG, WARM, Fuzzy hugs my dear friend!

Kathi

John23's picture
John23
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

Gee Craig, you oughta' see what loneliness really is, when you
decide -not- to use chemical therapy or radiation to fight cancer.

You oughta' see what the feeling is like, of being treated like a fool
for trying to fight cancer with other than the "approved" methods!

And you oughta' have a chance to see how families of friends treat
you for attempting to convince their loved one to try something other
than the chemotherapy they have been using. Especially so, when after
being declared "NED" thanks to chemo, they die from brain tumors
that went undetected.

You should feel the rejection of the families of those that have had
their loved ones die, after years of chemo and mainstream care,
when they see you still alive and well.

And you should have a chance to know what it feels like to get
a cold, or not feel well, and have neighbors, friends, or family
suggest that maybe you should consider trying chemo, since
what ails you could be cancer......

I cringe whenever I hear or read someone rallying over what they
determine as "NED"; Technology can't differentiate between a single
cancer cell and a normal one - what is there to celebrate?

Yes, you're right Craig..... It's a lonely world we live in; it's a callous,
brainwashed, insensitive world, geared to accepting the hype of
well-presented and funded bologna of the industrial giants, and rejecting
all else.

It leaves many, many of us out in the cold, while we watch our friends
pass on, never knowing the loneliness of our choices....

Choices that may have managed to keep us alive.

I am fortunate to have a spouse that has supported any choice I have made;
it is the best a care-giver could ever do for a loved one.

I wish I had a magic wand...... but all I have is a keyboard.

Better health to all !

John

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Oh Craig,

Thank you for pouring your heart out here. Yeah, like you said- cheaper than a therapist :) I, too, would like to share more, but my crazy life today and all this week won't allow it at the moment. As it is, I'm going to be late for my onc appt after sitting down and reading this. Gotta run, but I just wanted to say that I read this and appreciate it and can relate to it. I'm "just" 2 yrs, 9-1/2 months into the fight, so I can only imagine what another three years will do to that tired feeling I already have (and so does my family).

Huge hugs to you Craig, and to Kim, too.
I will write more later-
Lisa

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

I'm home again (with a 40 minute space between getting home from the onc and leaving again to go pick up a carpool of 6 kids). My onc appt went fine- just changing my schedule up a bit & am switching from 5FU pump to Xeloda, adding in Avastin again, and keeping on w/ the gemzar. Anyhow, back to this subject...

Craig, it breaks my heart to hear the heartache you're experiencing- and your wife Kim, too. As I said before, I'm "just" a little shy of 3 yrs into this fight. I, too, at the beginning was fighting hard & had every hope to become NED right away & never thought I'd still be doing chemo for so long. You and Kim have been dealing with all this more than double the time that I have. It's really too overwhelming for me to think ahead and think about how my husband and kids will deal with this as it stretches on and on. I, of course, hope and pray that it stretches on, as the alternative of dying before then is not a thought I embrace, obviously. I can relate to how you talk about your wife kind of treating it all as business and leaving it behind emotionally. I know my husband does the same thing. He just can't handle hearing about it. I always cringe when we're out together and someone comes up and asks me how I'm doing. I try to make my answer short, quick, and then find a way to change the subject to something else. Some people don't get it- they go on and on with what they think I should try, what so and so did and they're now cancer free, and have I ever tried ---, etc, etc. After three years of this, I do not want to hear anyone's unsolicted advice about how to cure my cancer, thank you very much! I think a little bit of my husband dies inside each time he hears someone talk about it. The reality that I may not be around forever is too difficult for him. It's obviously not great for me to think about it either, but he'd be the one left behind to deal with life and to raise three kids alone, not me. It really is harder that way on our loved ones. I almost said on our caregivers, but I don't think of my husband as my "caregiver". I know he loves me, but I'm my own caregiver and I'm also "caregiver" over my husband and three kids- all of whom deal with depression (or DON'T deal with it, I should say). It's not easy living in a home with 4 other individuals who suffer from depression- it definitely brings me down a lot. I find that I'm the one (yeah- me, the one with cancer)- I'm the one who is the glue that holds my family together. I thank the Lord daily (often numerous times daily)for continually giving me physical, emotional, and spiritual strength. It's not always there, but fortunately those days are not nearly as common as the ones where I'm feeling uplifted. Back to my family of depressed people... my 17 yr old son is actually doing much, much better lately. We've had some great talks. He won't see a counselor, but he does talk to me more lately & that helps & he's doing a lot better in school now and even has a job (whoopee!). My husband has his ups and downs, as has been the pattern over the years (married 19 yrs). His good and down days are about 60-40, which is a huge improvement. He won't take any kind of antidepressant, having not had success w/ them 2 other times. Yes, there's new stuff out there, but I know he will not take anything. Sam-e is something you can get over the counter & this has been pretty helpful to everyone in the family in the past several months. My son seems to have benefitted the most from it (google sam-e if you're not familiar w/ it and are curious). My youngest daughter (age 10) also is taking sam-e. It helps some & we know that it does because we REALLY notice the difference on the days she forgets to take it. Her issue is more anxiety and anger & the sam-e does help with that. She (10 yr old) is going to a counselor and it also is helping. She had an appt yesterday & didn't want to go. Afterwards, she told me, "Mommy, if I try to get you to cancel it next time- don't do it- I need to come here and I like my counselor- so drag me here if I don't want to come next time." She's funny sometimes! We have had great spiritual talks lately, too. My 10 yr old seems to have the wisdom and maturity of a 30 yr old at times. Sometimes kind of scary almost. My 14 yr old daughter is having the hardest time of anyone in my family lately. 14 is dang hard anyhow with friend relationships, hormones, etc., but she has also been hit even harder with what seems to be something similar that my husband experienced as a teen. When he hit adolescence, he went through kind of a break down. He had been straight A's, in the mentally gifted class, and suddenly when asked something as simple as 8 + 4, he'd just go blank and not be able to do anything. That's kind of what my daughter is experiencing, and it seems to have started almost a year ago. She was a very good student, never had attention issues, & now she can't remember ANYTHING- her math tutor comes, she seems to get it- then she takes the test the next day and gets an F. She can't comprehend anything she reads. Last night, for example, she needed to finish her very major project on the Halocaust and Anne Frank. Her 8th grade class visited a museum in LA that featured lots of Halocaust displays. One small part of her project was to write a 2 page reflection on the museum field trip. She asked me "What was the museum even about?" I don't know- I wasn't there! She literally could not recall what it was about, anything she saw there, etc. I looked up the internet website on it & got the info for her there. She was totally incapable of writing her 5 paragraph essay on the gas chambers. She acted like she didn't know the first thing about how to do research, or even how to read and understand anything. If you worked w/ her, you would think she had definite learning disabilities, but she never did before- you don't just "get" learning disabled overnight. I have to believe it's all mental/emotional issues that are taking up her mind and concentration and not allowing her to absorb anything else. I HAVE taken her to her primary doc and to a phychiatrist. They really were not much help. I've had two appts since with a counselor for her, but she locked herself in her room both times until it was past time leave and then I had to call and cancel (amazingly, they didn't charge me). How do you get help for someone who won't talk about anything and won't get in the car and go get help?? My husband is no help with this w/ her because he can't deal w/ his own problems & tells me to just "leave her alone- she'll get over it".
Okay- I know I've gotten off subject here by going on about my kids and daughter's issues, but it's all STUFF I'm dealing with, in addition to my cancer, chemo, scans, etc.
God CAN'T let me die because I have to be here for my family!!
I'm doing fine, not going anywhere now, but man, it's hard!!

Friends don't want to hear all this- so I don't bother trying to tell them anymore. My mom is helpful to me, but I can tell she feels too burdened to hear it all, so I don't share it all anymore. I know what you mean about some friends and family acting like they're interested, but just say "I'm thinking of you" or "I'm praying for you" & I know darn well who the ones who really are thinking of and praying for me vs. the ones that just are saying it to sound pleasant at the moment. They are the same ones who don't call anymore because they "don't want to bother me". One of my sisters in law never calls me anymore. She's fine when I call her & we talk, but she never calls me anymore & it does hurt. My supposed best friend from elementary, jr high, high school, and beyond, has seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth- from my part of the world, anyhow. She actually did send me an email about a year ago & did not once ask me how I was. I guess she doesn't want to hear. I try not to judge her too harshly, but it is hard, because I know I wouldn't be that way if she was the one with cancer.

Interestingly, most of the people around me who are so supportive and do call me are people I've really just gotten to know in the past 2-3 yrs. The ones I've known for ages show up or call very, very rarely now. They're probably just waiting to hear the "bad news" about me & figure it's just a matter of time. Maybe it is- but so what- I'm here for now & am living life! I just realized this past Sunday that I don't think my pastor will ever get beyond saying to me with a sad face "I'm praying for you." I know and believe he truly means it and cares, I just wish that I could be a person that isn't "marked" as "the lady with cancer".

Well, now that I've gotten some of my feelings out, I do feel better again.
Yeah, Craig- it's cheaper than a therapist! (I have to save my time and money on therapists for my kids- can't get to one for myself- lol!) That's one thing I do love about this board- you are all to listen & you do it well!

Ok- now I'm off to take care of puppies and kittens and clean things up a bit before I go pick up the carpool of kids.
Fight on, everyone & let's always allow each other to be here for each other!

Hugs,
Lisa

betina61's picture
betina61
Posts: 644
Joined: Aug 2006

I wish I could express my feelings the way you do,but anyway English is my second language.

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6383
Joined: Feb 2009

Craig: you so eloquently put it to words how you are feeling. I'm sorry that you have no close family to help you through this. You went through this battle alone for so many years and that alone has to have taken some toll on you emotionally and physically. You are right when you say that most people wish you well and then forget about you. They go about their daily lives and goes weeks without giving anyone that had cancer a second thought. Even spouses that are caregivers get a chance to get away from the "cancer". My husband goes to play golf, he goes to Home Depot, he goes in his work shop. He's not thinking of me or cancer, but for that I'm grateful. He has been such a rock for me since all this began and couldn't have made it this far without him. What a patient husband I have - emotionally and sexually.

Kim probably doesn't handle big situations well and she was just lashing out at the most important thing in her life - you. That is so normal as we all "pick" on the person we love most and try to hurt them because we are hurting. That is being human. She has been through a lot with you and you are right, she deserves a great deal of praise. Once in a while right before a big test I can be the most intolerable person, maybe because of being so scared. But I apologize almost immediately and fortunately it doesn't happen often.

Sometimes we feel alone in this battle but we can always remember that if we don't have biological family to help us - we have this family to help us and that is just as important.

Kim

lizzydavis's picture
lizzydavis
Posts: 893
Joined: May 2009

Craig,

I must say I have - at times - experienced some of the same. People come in and out of your life for a reason. One thing I have learned is that each one of us is actually alone in life. We live with ourselves and never can we depend on someone to be with us all the time.

People do not realize everyone has problems – some bigger than others. We do not know what others have experienced until we walk in their shoes. There are many diseases, family member deaths, depression, loss of jobs and other troubles which take their toll on good people too.

It is a must to continue the effort of taking the high road. Any hurt feelings should roll off our shoulders. Many times words are said in the heat of the moment but were not meant. It is important for us to work hard on these relationships. We must be the one to bring laughter, make the phone calls, and send letters. When we do not nurture our relationships, they will fade.

If Kim had married someone else, her life would be a lot different. She could have married an abuser, alcoholic, drifter, or a parasite. Consider those husbands. We must remember the person we fell in love with and the reason we married. We must remember in sickness and in health….

I get sad when I think of the tragedies/road blocks in my life (the death of my parents, the murder of my sister, a broken neck, cancer, relationship issues, etc.) Although, I do believe these things have made me a stronger person.

I saw this on one of the posts and liked it enough to save it - Every one of us will leave a legacy – a lasting reminder of the difference our lives made. But the truth is, every choice counts. Every thought matters. Even the smallest action makes a difference. Maybe we could all work to be a light and example to those around us.

"Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling"
Don’t argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.

The Greatest Happiness in the World is to make others happy.

None of us have guarantees for tomorrow. Those without cancer do not have a guarantee of tomorrow.

I have made an effort to do more to help people. I have taken my dog to a retirement home for Pet Therapy. It was a win-win. We all received the therapy including my dog. I volunteer with charities. These things make me feel better about myself.

I find that if George and I go out to plays, festivals, or dinner with another couple it helps our relationship.

Just some rambling thoughts and I hope someone will benefit.

Craig, weather the storm with me and your CSN family.

Lizzy

christinecarl's picture
christinecarl
Posts: 545
Joined: Sep 2009

The cancer did not make me bleed people out of my life, the people who were there for me, were the people that always have been. Not many surprises, my dad only called me once, it was when I was in the hospital recovering, he did not call me again after that, not once during the entire 6 mos of chemo. Now his wife has breast cancer, I would not wish that on anyone, but now they can walk in my shoes. I know people think I am better and I am in a way, but on the inside it is different, cancer has changed me, not all of it for the better.

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6383
Joined: Feb 2009

My heart breaks for you. So sorry to hear that you and your dad have not communicated since your surgery and now his wife has cancer. No one should go through this alone. You are right after cancer you are changed and not for the better. You worry about everything that never bothered you before. It is always for me before cancer and after cancer diagnosis. Always thinking how things were better before and how things are more complicated now.

Kim

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Well, I certainly want to thank you all for your deep thoughts and personal experiences. I believe it helps to hear everyone's perspective and what they have been through. Hearing that is the kind of thing that keeps one grounded.

I knew this post had the potential to be a lightning rod - the response and participation has been overwhelming and I thank you for digging deep and telling me something about yourselves. We all learned something, didn't we?

And the more we learn - leads to enlightenment - and I so much am trying to get there.

Sometimes, I almost don't write these type of posts. But then I think, someone may be feeling something similar and want to talk about it - I've received many PMs from folks, new and old, who have validated this. And sometimes it's hard to step away into those dark recesses of our life, that few fear to tread - but someone has got to take the first step, so on occasion I put this out there. I'm not perfect, I'm flawed and fallible, strong and weak, but I am real. And that's the thing I try to show the most when I post.

Thanks to all the new folks that posted here - thanks to the old timers like Ron50 who posted, thanks mate - and thanks to all my other friends, who put up with me on a daily basis:)

Thanks for being there:)
-Craig

Erinb
Posts: 295
Joined: Apr 2010

Craig,
Your posts are moving and thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. When I think of my husband and his situation, I HOPE we are still fighting this battle in 10 plus years. I need him-just as your wife needs you.

There is a small part of me that thinks-why couldn't this be someone who hated their husband-there are couples out there who fight and don't get along Right? I know it's immature to push yourself away from your loved one as surgery approaches, but could it be a defense mechanism because she is terrified, scared, and worried? (I'd rather hate him than love him-it will be easier to deal with it all) Just a thought.
Erin

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi Erin

Nice to meet you!

A very insightful question that you posed here - that could very well be the case.

Maybe I mean more to her than she lets on, but expresses it the opposite way. Perhaps she is directing her anger towards me to cushion the blow. I wish she would just tell me.

After 10-years in a row of turmoil, I think she is just tired and wants it all to go away - she just wants the "bleeding" to stop. There could be a degree of immaturity on her part on dealing or not dealing with her feelings. I underestimated that perspective - she is a living, growing entity in her own right.

I think she needs an outlet - a girlfriend that she could do things with to take her mind off of things and give her another relationship in her life. Her sisters live in PA and do not come to see her. They came once in 16-years in our house - and that was to supposedly help clean up after the tornado. She cannot afford to go up there these days, but when I can I'm going to send her home and hope that helps some.

And I hope one day we could find a couple to do something with on occasion. I don't need something all the time, but it would be nice to have dinner, or watch a movie or sporting event, or just someone different to talk to.

As Lizzy said above, it helps their relationship and I think it would for us as well.

I'm watching the patterns - and hopefully we'll just get this mess out of the way now, so we can focus on the recovery - and then maybe I can begin to rebuild our lives.

But alot of it could just be that after 10 years of life threatening issues from tornadoes to cancer, (that's a span of about 3,650 days) that many of us, man or woman, would have had enough. We've stood together and taken a lifetime of beatings and I told her when we look back up, this will have been a very hard stretch in our lives, but we made it through.

Just to show you the other side of this though - here's another quick story.

About 18 months ago, I had completed my 20th year of service with the company. I was in the middle of the Folfox treatments, but still working on the job - Kim surprised me by sending a bouquet of flowers one day with a note:

"Congratulations on your 20-year anniversary. I am proud of you for working while still going through your chemo treatments. You're an inspiration...Love/Kim"

I just about passed out!

I called her to thank her and tell her I loved her. Every now and then she leaks something like that and shows me her tender side - and that's what any of us want - it's not sympathy, it's connection of what we're both going through - let's talk and share. It's the intimacy between you - we've never been ones to cry about things, but I think I want that "base understanding and sharing" that I read alot of you have.

I thank you for your thoughts this morning - look forward to talking with you more.

-Craig

golden17
Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2009

.

Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Thanks for your great post.It is very touching.I think you should save all these posts and write a book.I sure will be your first customer.After a rough year,I think this cancer definitely brings a new way for me to look at life.One day,I was asking myself,how about if it was not cancer,but something else that is also life threatening and financial stressed showed up in life,what should I do?Obviously,quitting is not the answer.

I have seen people died from cancer in my family,my grandpa,my ancle in-law and my cousin.I was there for my cousin until her last breath.But when it is your spouse,you feel so different.To me,the hardest part was to conquer the fear.At the first couple of month when my hubby got diagnosed,my mind couldn't stop spinning,and I had lots of nightmare.I also lost my sharpness and my brain just couldn't work.You know why?Because I can't accept the reality that my hubby was diagnosed with cancer and he could be killed by it.Because I can't accept the reality that the death was so closed to me.

Craig,you and your wife had a long battle-six years.It does suck in the long term.People do get tired.You understand that people will get tired of a certain"lifestyle" especailly it sucks so much.But like what she said,life doesn't get better without you.I believe my life will never be the same without my husband.I had my happiest time in my life with my husband(I hope we are going to have many many more happiest time in the future),it's going to be 8 years since we knew each other.No matter what happens,I will be his keeper and supporter.I think if anything bad happens to me,he would do the same for me too.

Sometimes people get frustrated and say something we don't mean.So we should always have more concerns about people's "doing" than "saying".Life is so precious,let's forget about whatever the stupid things we ever said to each other,only remember the good things and sweet things we said to each other,then everybody's life will be happier and easier.I always tell my husband that he should only remember the good things I do for him,it is the secret to get rid of grumpiness.:)

AnneCan
Posts: 3692
Joined: Oct 2009

Hi Craig,

I have delayed responding to your thread because I wanted to say something "helpful, inspirational, the "right thing" etc. I have decided just to post my own "real" thoughts, straight from the heart.

First of all, you + Kim must be two incredibly strong people to have come through all that you have come through + with such dignity.

It is never too late to make new friends. Old friends are great but if they are not around, not helpful, etc., we need to find new friends. Sometimes they are right under our noses + sometimes they are a little deeper in the soil + we have to work to get them out. I have been incredibly fortunate with my friends + relatives - most have been unbelievable, but there have been a few "disappointments". I try to focus on all the good ones. Nevertheless, I am still developing new relationships - I joined a new neighbourhood book club that was forming + I am making some new friends, as well as getting to know some people a little better. I wasn't sure whether or not to join, but decided to push my comfort level + join. If I need to miss the odd meeting for chemo, etc., so be it. I think if you reach out to someone - neighbour, co-worker etc., someone in the "dog" world, you will be pleasantly surprised with the results. Your personality is such that people are drawn to you. I would be honoured to be able to enjoy social activies with you, Kim + my husband (are you moving to the Toronto area anytime soon? -haha) The first steps are the hardest, and then it gets easier. And shoot for some friends from the non-cancer world too, to bring you diversity. While I value this board tremendously, I also really value the relationships where I can see, hear + touch the people. Everytime we either have people over or go out to someone's etc., my husband + I feel lifted up + we enjoy each other more. I think you + Kim would find this too. As much as I love my husband + consider him my soulmate, I would be lost without others in my life. You and Kim deserve that; go out + get it. Warm thoughts are being sent your way. Take good care!

Anonymous user (not verified)

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AnneCan
Posts: 3692
Joined: Oct 2009

Wow, Graci,

You are doing incredibly well - 2 socials in the past 2 weeks, despite recent surgery. You should be really proud of yourself! I think it will be no time until you have so many people to hang out with you won't know what to do. You have been through a lot, nursing your husband, dealing with your daughter + now dealing with your own cancer situation. Yet you have maintained a kind, positve outlook. Now it is time to have some fun. I would love to have you as a "real" friend if you lived closer by. But I will enjoy your posts + also look forward to "friendship" updates. You will have no trouble, sometimes it just takes a little while to find the "right" ones. All the best to you, dear Graci. I am glad if I gave a little "boost" to you; we all need that!

robinvan's picture
robinvan
Posts: 1014
Joined: May 2007

I'm not sure I can picture that. Let me see... Texas Longhorns, Dallas Cowboys, trade them in for who, the Toronto Argonauts. Nope, can't see this happening! LOL!

Rob; in Vancouver

AnneCan
Posts: 3692
Joined: Oct 2009

Hey, what about the Maple Leafs, Raptors.......OK Rob I get it! Take care!

robinvan's picture
robinvan
Posts: 1014
Joined: May 2007

You must mean Johny Bower, Dave Keon, Tim Horton, Frank Mahovolich and the 1967 Stanley Cup! Haven't seen them since!! LOL... Our Canucks are toast now too!

Rob; In Vancouver

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

What would I do without the Canadiens in my life, eh?

Anne, you are so sweet and your post is full of wisdom - just the kind of stuff that has gotten me to do some more deep thinkin'.

Kim and I will keep searching and when you seek, you will find. But you're right, they have got to be some good people and those are hard to find.

When we get to Canada, you are on my list of people to see. And Rob too, LOL:)

Thank you you so much for being a port of calm when the Seas of Life are rough - you've always been a very dear and kind woman and I treasure you far more than you might realize - or maybe you do and that's why you put up with me, LOL:)

I look forward to a big hug with you too:)

-Craig

AnneCan
Posts: 3692
Joined: Oct 2009

Craig,

You definitely need to put Toronto on your "to-do" list. There is tons to do in TO, including sports (despite Rob's disparaging remarks!), theatre, great restaurants, waterfront activities etc. Vancouver, where Rob lives is a beautiful city as well; I have been there 3 times I think + absolutely love it. Unfortunately, it is ~ 4 hour flight from Toronto, or I would have been there many more times. Definitely both cities should be on your "Canadian tour" list. Just let me know when you will be arriving in Toronto!

Thanks for the lovely compliments - I am happy if I can help even a smidgen. You are sure there for me + everyone else!

sfmarie's picture
sfmarie
Posts: 605
Joined: Aug 2009

Thank you for your kind words. It is nice to hear, especially at a time when you start to doubt if you did all you could.

Hugs, Marie

sfmarie's picture
sfmarie
Posts: 605
Joined: Aug 2009

I am crying here reading your post. Now, you could be a novelist, almost like Nicholas Sparks :)

I supported my sister throughout her journey and true there were some moments I thought, please just let me have a week without any urgent phone calls. Of course, looking back, I wish I spent every waking moment with her. We managed to eek out as much fun and as much time together as possible, but you always think there could have been room for more. Now, given we were 6 hours away from one another and we both have our families, children and jobs to deal with, I did the best I could. But maybe I could have done more. The cancer journey is exhausting! And it could not be more exhausting for the patient. I could never imagine.

If you were my neighbor, I think you would be posting on here, what do I do about my pesty neighbor. She comes over all the time and is even arranging puppy play dates! And her husband want to watch the Cowboys together (he's a huge Dallas fan).

I am grateful for my supporting family and blessed to have them.

Go find yourself an agent and start writing that novel!

Hugs,

Marie

AnneCan
Posts: 3692
Joined: Oct 2009

Marie,

You are the poster child for what a sister can be. I have always been amazed at how involved you were with your sister's cancer journey. Be proud, you have placed the bar high!

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

If you were my neighbor, I would be absolutely "thrilled!" All the good people I know live on this board, which is why I'm so grateful that I have each one of you. All of you have no idea how much a part of my life that you really are - and those are not just words from the wordsmith. I truly mean that.

I would still be posting, but probably saying something like I've got this great neighbor and I'm so happy to have her in my life. And I could also watch the games with hubby - I'm sure we would get along famously. And Harley....he needs a friend too, puppy play dates sound so good to me right now. That sounds like alot of livin' to me:)

You and your family just come on over - or we'll come there - we'll have a time. But then, you might post, there is is this "pesky Texan" and we just can't get rid of him, LOL:)

You picked up my spirits - wish I were there to give you a great big Texas hug - I just love a good hug. You can feel the sparks passing between each other when it's done right:)

And thank you so much for thinking I can write - so many folks here are so supportive - perhaps it's time I look in to this.

You're a sweetheart and you've always been there for me - even this "novelist" does not have adequate words to express my appreciation for you.

-Craig

elizabethgd
Posts: 146
Joined: May 2009

but wanted to say thank you... to all of your responses.. It is difficult for me to express myself.. but listening to your expressions has helped me . Somehow there is comfort in knowing that someone else has been through this, and understands how it feels..
love to all of you

zenmonk
Posts: 198
Joined: Nov 2009

For me cancer only weakened what was weak before. It provided ultimate truth in my relationships.

John23's picture
John23
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

Well said; profoundly, well said!

Better days...

John

pf78248's picture
pf78248
Posts: 209
Joined: Jul 2008

Craig,

I echo the many others that have said you should write a book. Your writing skills are so good but what comes through the most is you are speaking from the heart. That's hard for a lot of people to do in an kind but honest way.

David and I are so fortunate to be supported by great friends and family throughout his cancer journey. My heart breaks to learn so many deserving survivors have issues with friends and family. It's hard enough to battle this beast without that support.

I just want you to know that if you and Kim ever want to head to San Antonio for a weekend, David and I would welcome you with open arms. We always have time for new friends in our lives! Bring your puppy, our golden Bailey would love a playmate!

Hugs to both of you,
Priscilla

Sandi1's picture
Sandi1
Posts: 278
Joined: Aug 2008

Sundance, where are you located?

HollyID's picture
HollyID
Posts: 951
Joined: Dec 2009

When I married Dave over 25 years ago, we lived on a cattle ranch. Both he and I cowboy'd for a living. We were both up at 2 in the morning when it was time for trailing, branding, weaning... whatever the activity of the year was. What attracted me to him was his ruggedness. I grew up on a ranch, but never had I met a man who was so rugged and spoke his mind and always spoke the truth. Work was always first in his mind. He loved his family (we had 2 small kids at this time and they often went with us) but his job was where he really shined. He was known as the best cowboy on the ranch. He could ride any horse, bronc-y or not. I was not that skilled. Early one morning, we were rounding up cattle and I was riding my favorite horse, Nighthawk. Nighthawk and I were going after a calf that had decided to turn back. I was stuck in the drag, like usual. That's where all the dust flies up in your face and you just take it because you're the low man on the totem pole.

Well, The calf turned off, Nighthawk tracked him like a missile and I wasn't paying attention. I flew off. My glasses shattered into a million pieces, and I could feel blood running down my leg. Dave rode up next to me as I was laying on the ground. He asked what happened and if I was OK... When I told him I was fine, he told me to get my arse back in the saddle and that I was wasting daylight. He was a ball-buster. Always has been and always will be. He's that way in his job right now. He does all the trail work on the Palisades ranger district and he uses work horses and mules to get this all done. He's always been a horse person. If you took his horses away, he'd wither up and die.

Believe me, and I think we're all the same, I wish there was no diagnosis. My life was swimming along without snags and life was good. We'd just bought a house, My daughter just found her dream job and we were helping her move. My oldest daughter was finally getting along with her bio dad. My son just graduated from high school and was still working at a fast food joint. Life was good.

If you fastforward to today, life is still good, just in a different way. I'm sure that there are days that Dave's hates listening to my diatribe of "guess what I learned today?" "Guess what the onc said today?" "Do you want to go with me to see him?"

Now, don't get me wrong about Dave. He's my best friend and soul mate. Someone whom I could not live without. When I had my colectomy, and the surgeon told him I was in PACU, he insisted that he needed to see me. When the surgeon said he needed to wait until I was out, he still insisted that he had to see me. My daughter had to calm him down enough to wait and that I'd be in my room in less than an hour. He never left my side that night and was always just sitting up and watching me, like if he didn't, I'd fade away into the night never to be seen again. When I learned of my prognosis, Dave was there. When I started crying because it was a stage III instead of the stage II we were hoping for, Dave was there. He's never been big on women crying and in our 25 years of marriage, I've cried in front of him twice and that's when our children were born.

He silently holds my hand now... all the time. He seems to have to touch me all the time now, but secretly, I'm sure he wishes November never happened. Now that it has, we deal with it.

I'm almost done with my chemo. The end of June is my last one. We then do CEAs every three months, and according to them, I don't need to do a CT unless one of the CEAs goes outta whack. Yes, I'm excited to be done with chemo. More than you'll ever know, but then it's a waiting game. Will it come back, or have we annihilated it?

Don't think for a second that Dave never thought he'd lose me. I know he did. No rugged cowboy would be telling the surgeon that he needs to see me NOW!! This crap is hard, no matter who you are. I'm broke, but happy. I have no idea how I'm going to pay for this. It's kinda like a car payment I guess, which I haven't had car payments in years. I guess he gets paid like all the bills. They'll get it when they get it.

HollyID's picture
HollyID
Posts: 951
Joined: Dec 2009

Love you bud.... write a book... I'd be your biggest fan!!

SandyL
Posts: 220
Joined: Feb 2009

I'm sure you've heard all this before, Craig but you must put yourself/yourselves out there to find the type friends you desire. You will fine them at church; join a book club since you're gonna write your own story *grin*, join a gym, engage conversations at the grocery store, library, and yes even the drs. office. There are so many ways to meet folks and develop friendships. Life is not all as vacant as you have presented with your family. And I cannot tell you how very sorry I am to hear about the absent, non-caring family members you and Kim both have. Neighbors, friends of neighbors, you could host a block party (when you feel up to it); go to a rally; participate in a few of these things and then network! It would seem that there are folks on this board that would be aware of someone in your neck of the woods that you would enjoy meeting. Someone from this board actually visited you in the hospital, didn't he? Maybe I'm hallucinating! I surely would have visited with you if I lived in Texas. And I know Texas is a really big area. But I would have. You are my kinda guy and I hope and pray for nothing but the best for you and Kim. So here my friend is a great big ole cyber hug for you. << >> And here's one for Kim, too.<< >>
Sandy
PS. I'll buy your book!

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