One of the hardest parts of being a survivor’s wife is living in a world of what-ifs. What if the swollen lymph nodes are not because of strep throat? What if that rash isn’t just poison ivy? What if the cancer comes back? I worry every day that we won’t recognize the symptoms. I am constantly on alert.
Even in my heightened sense of awareness, there are certain times of the year that trigger what I would consider to be a near panic. One of those times is the couple of weeks leading up to a routine oncology appointment. When the office starts calling to remind my survivor about CAT scans and blood work , my anxiety begins to build. As the date of the appointment grows closer, my stress level climbs like a thermometer in August. What if the CAT scan comes back inconclusive and we have to wait for PET scan results? What if the blood work shows elevated levels?
Even harder than worrying is trying not to let it show. I’m supposed to be the strong one. I got us through three years of what-ifs. I should be able to handle waiting for a little appointment with our favorite doctor. For the most part, I think I’m being successful in managing it all, but then I find myself sleeping less at night and being more short-tempered with the kids. I have to remind myself that they don’t understand – they have no idea what is going on. They also survived such a difficult time in our lives, I owe it to them to protect them from the worry. Sometimes, I just have to take a step back, breathe and enjoy a nice glass of Riesling, all while refocusing my energies on what’s important.
We survived another oncology appointment today with a clean bill of health and for that I am eternally grateful. Now to tackle the next 6 months as a better person than I was yesterday…
We all get busy in life. Work, kids, family, dishes, laundry…the list is endless. It’s very easy to get caught up in the routine of raising a family and just as easy to sacrifice quality time with your partner in the process. Often, we find ourselves with a peck on the cheek as our spouse runs out the door to drop the kids off at school and you don’t reconnect until you lay your too tired head on the pillow at night. This becomes the norm, not the exception and somehow the romance is lost.
The most significant thing that the past 5 years has taught me is that it is important to take the time to nurture the relationship with your spouse. One day you might not have that opportunity. It doesn’t have to be a week long vacation to the Bahamas (although that would be really nice). It can be a twilight walk around the block or sitting by the fire pit with a glass of wine. Whatever time you can carve out of a busy day can be enough.
Every year we take one weekend in June to recharge our batteries and reconnect with one another. Believe it or not, my responsible, devoted husband used to be a die-hard adrenaline junkie! In his younger days, he raced Super comp Motorcycles (yikes!). For the past four years, the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) has hosted a national event at our local drag strip in Epping, New Hampshire. One live race, and I was hooked! I am now a front row spectator with a favorite driver in every category.
For this one weekend, we spend our days cheering on our favorite drivers and our nights outlet shopping and exploring new restaurants. We stay at quaint bed & breakfasts and simply enjoy one another’s company. We talk about whatever comes to mind – work and kids are off limits – and rediscover why we fell in love. The romance that falls lower on the priority list (but never forgotten) is a priority. My husband holds the door for me and holds my hand. I look forward to this weekend for the whole year.
Take the time, whether it is a few minutes or a few days, and make sure you are connecting with the person you have chosen and who has chosen you. The day will come when that opportunity is no longer there.