My husband, Gary, was
stubborn tenacious. Diagnosed with late-stage, slow-growing prostate cancer, there was a two-year life expectancy. But Gary stubbornly insisted on living ten years. Ten far-reaching, astonishing years.
I loved that I was married to a tenacious man.
I remember exactly where I was when my cell phone rang. “It’s cancer,” said the deep voice I knew and loved so well. “Oh, hon,” I said, letting my breath out, my brain firing in all directions like that little silver ball in a pinball machine.
When my mother moved in with us, I stumbled into the role of an Alzheimer’s caregiver with zero experience.
Not long afterward, these scary, life-altering words were pronounced to my husband, Gary: “It’s cancer.” And just like that, a double assignment was handed to me.
An email arrived recently from a friend — her grandfather died, and a week and a half later, her grandmother was diagnosed with late stage cancer.
“My grandma went through such a long, rough time being a caregiver for my grandpa,” wrote this young woman, “… and now this.”
Being a caregiver was one of the most challenging and sweetest roles I’ve ever held. The challenging part was in the beginning, when terminal cancer was dropped on us from a high-flying bomber we didn’t see coming.
A year later—after my husband, Gary, finally admitted his fears and feelings of failure as a man—we sorted things out, determined to live more fully, found ways to give back, and made more fun and memories. That was the thunderous, sweet, majestic part.
If given the assignment to share tips from my cancer caregiving years, and if the assignment required an alphabetized list …
Ralph Waldo Emerson said this:
No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing.
That’s because a crew needs to be in synch; to pull together at equal strength. Connected. Coordinated.
When Tyler Henderson was diagnosed with brain cancer, Marni brought their two sons home for online schooling so they could spend as much time together as a family while they still had the hours, the weeks, the months.
Turns out, they only had fifteen more months together. Which wasn’t nearly enough time.
Tyler and Marni