Would My Mate Leave Me?

My husband, Don, told me I had cancer. Well, he confirmed it, really.

Two days earlier, on April 6, 1993, I'd found lumpy, hard growths on my neck. Since I was a physician, I examined myself right away. What could they mean?

Within a few minutes I knew—these were lymph nodes and they were full of cancer.

But I couldn't be certain—not until I'd had a lymph node removed and studied under a microscope. So after the surgery on April 8, I awoke to find Don sitting by my bed.

I blinked as I opened my eyes and tried to focus on his. He waited. Slowly my brain cleared. I searched Don's face and saw concern.

"Is it cancer?" I asked. He nodded and gently took my hand. I couldn't breathe. Cancer.

For Don and me, the journey through cancer was as much about awareness as sickness, understanding as much as healing.

Am I going to die? I wondered. Will I leave behind this sweet man to rear our two toddlers on his own?

"It's Hodgkin's lymphoma," he added. Hodgkin's? I knew that Hodgkin's is treatable. The vice-grip around my chest loosened, and I could breathe again.

Treating cancer means chemotherapy or radiation, and maybe more surgery. And I knew how fatigued people going through cancer treatment became. I wouldn't be able to keep up with everything that needed to be done at home. In my medical practice, I'd seen marriages break up as a result of one mate having cancer. I wondered about my marriage. How will this affect us? Will Don trudge along with me on this path? Will he grow tired from the stress and caregiving, and leave me?

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Cancer; Disease; Illness; Marriage
Today's Christian Woman, Fall, 2006
Posted September 12, 2008

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May 25

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