One of the first experiences I had after my husband became a survivor was of loss. In the traditional sense, we very rarely associate surviving with loss. As a survivor’s wife I did not experience the same loss as I would have had my husband lost his life, but I did lose something nonetheless.
In 2012, when remission was confirmed and life started to go back to “normal”, I realized that what we both had lost was our optimism. Gone were the days of long-term future planning. I saw us living our lives from PET scan to PET scan. It was as if we were afraid to believe that he was healthy. Our lives had become so consumed by cancer; we didn’t remember how to live without it. His initial diagnosis was so unexpected and so sudden that we were sure that the next time he went for testing, it would be back.
We have come to realize that our children not only deserve, but thrive off of our optimism. We owe it to them to give them a positive childhood. Although our son is only 2 ½, he is visibly responding to the change in our behavior. Our daughter, who was 9 when her dad was diagnosed, is becoming a much less serious young lady. We hate that she had to grow up so fast at such a young age. This is the time for her to have fun. We need to lead by optimistic example.
It has been 2 ½ years since my husband went into remission and we are finally starting to come out of the fog. We have already made plans for our summer vacation next year. We talk about the future. We are still very aware that life is full of uncertainty, but understand that it cannot control our lives. Now, we take the time to appreciate the things in life that too often go unappreciated – the colors of the fall leaves, a spontaneous hug or a chance encounter. Whatever those little things are to you, enjoy them in the moment.