She Did Not Ask For This
***Before I begin this post, I want to apologize, unfortunately some changes have occurred by WordPress that is resulting in pop-ups and ads. I have no control over this and I do hope that it does not prevent you from following this blog.
Thirty years ago, I was six months away from my wedding. Thirty years ago, I finally had my world spinning the way that I had wanted. A good job. Someone I was planning on spending the rest of my life with. Life was good. That all changed with that doctor appointment. After several denials, I was finally going to have to come to reality and accept that I had also just been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This was going to be my future, and I needed to deal with it head on.
And that began with telling the most important person in my life, my fiance. Up to that point, neither of us had even dreamed that this would have been a possibility. Emotionally, I was drained from my conversation with my employer just an hour before. Perhaps that was a good thing. I might be able to better hold myself together as I tried to explain to her, well… I was not sure what to explain to her because at this point, all I knew was, I had cancer. There was no Google back then, no convenient way to research what the Hell Hodgkin’s even was. To be honest, if you knew details about a cancer, like lung, breast, or colon, it is because those were so deadly, and unfortunately, more common.
Not knowing where to start, we both sat down on the sofa in her living room. I just blurted it out.
Me: It’s Hodgkin’s.
Immediately she began to cry. We both assumed what cancer meant. She had previously experienced a boyfriend dying, and I could see it in her, that she was not thinking she was going to experience it again.
I “threw myself on the sword” and told her:
Me: I am going to get through this. But I have to be fair to you, you did not ask for this. You did not ask to be dealing with this again. I know what you went through before. I want to beat this, but I might not. And to be honest, our lives will never be the same. Any dreams you had on how the wedding would go, or how our lives would be, I don’t think we will experience that. I will understand, if you want out. We will part as friends. I will hold nothing against you if you choose to leave because I understand what you have gone through and do not want you to go through that again.
We sat on the couch in silence another ten minutes at least, her crying in my arms. We never said a word during that time. There was nothing more I could say. I had nothing else to offer her, not facts, not even a prognosis. All I had left to discuss when the time came, was what I had to do next.
She finally lifted her head and looked right at me, her face now drowned in tears.
Fiance: I can’t leave you. We will get through this together and deal with everything else as it comes up.
Me: What about the wedding?
Fiance: We will deal with that as we find out more about what is going to happen with you. What has to be done next?
Me: I need to call my grandmother to find out who was her oncologist. Clearly, he saved her life from breast cancer. He will save mine.
I left my fiance’s home a short while later, after we broke the news to her family. Again, you have to remember this fact, there were no cell phones back then, so I had to either call my grandmother from home, or go to visit her.
My grandmother was the only cancer survivor I knew. She was done with her breast cancer two years prior and as far as I was concerned, her oncologist could do the same for me. Her spirit through that fight was unbreakable. In fact, as I talked to her, we spent very little time. She got right to it. She gave me his name, and phone number. She then told me to call him first thing in the morning. Which I did.