Write, he said. In October of 2010 my late husband, Chuck encouraged me to write about my first cancer diagnosis, he felt it would be good for me to tell my story and to get my thoughts out of my head and onto my blog. Seven years later he died after a far too short battle with an uncommon and aggressive form of kidney cancer.
In the seven years and forty-six days since I first walked into the ER and woke up in the ICU I had ten surgeries, 62 radiation treatments, fought cancer twice, and my husband was diagnosed with and died from what we first believed were kidney stones. On October 10, 2010 I couldn’t have imagined (not even in my very worst nightmares) the days that laid ahead for the myself and Chuck. I certainly never imagined Chuck would die just eighteen days after our twentieth wedding anniversary or that I would spend our twentieth anniversary putting together a walker for my dying husband.
I never wrote about Chuck’s cancer, because it wasn’t my story to tell and to be perfectly honest it was almost too unreal to wrap my head around. I was sure my brave, strong husband would beat it, that there would be a miracle, that the next treatment would work, and drive his cancer into remission. His first oncologist told us people with Chuck’s condition live three years, Chuck lived one year and two months from the day he was diagnosed. Chuck was already sick and on a clinical trial when at my five-year scans the doctors found that my cancer had come back. It was all too much to believe, it was all too much handle. I never wrote about my second bout with cancer because I didn’t have time to muse about what was happening to me. I didn’t have it in me to feel sorry for myself or be scared, I had to be okay. By the time I had my brain surgery in May the clinical trial Chuck was on had failed, the cancer had grown two to three times in size and spread, he was on a chemo drug that was making him terribly ill. I didn’t write, because I couldn’t write. I refused to believe that Chuck would die. I was delusional and very, very wrong.
So, here I am, a widow, living alone for the first time in my life. I am sad, and scared, and lonely; my heart is broken, shattered. My world is in ruins. I’m shocked, and lost. There is a lot of uncertainty these days, and I hate uncertainty. I like definite, sure, and sturdy. I depend on definite and stable. I depended on Chuck, possibly too much. It’s been two months and fifteen days since Chuck passed from this mortal coil. I’ve had good days, bad days, and very, very bad days. I’ve had days when I’ve felt empty, lost, and alone. I’ve had days when I’ve felt accomplished and sure of myself, and I’ve had days when I felt my ability to function, get out of bed, feed myself and the cats, and to behave like a functioning adult somehow indicated that I didn’t love or miss Chuck enough, that somehow, I was dishonoring Chuck’s memory with my ability to be okay, that I was not grieving his loss properly or deeply enough. I questioned my love and devotion to Chuck. Why wasn’t I a basket case? Why was I able to function while other widows in the Facebook group I joined were not? Is my strength a character flaw? Am I in denial? Is there worst yet to come?
It’s a rainy Saturday and I’m home alone with nowhere to be and no plans for the next few days so I have time to feel all the feels and the reality of Chuck’s absence is very real. I’m so sad it physically hurts.
Write, he said, so here I am seven years and four months since I walked into that ER; seven years since Chuck encouraged me to write to help me deal with my first cancer diagnosis. Truthfully, the first blog helped save my sanity, it gave me something to be accountable to every day. It gave me a way to explain what was happening, it gave me a place to download each day’s data into daily bite-sized bits I could digest and understand. Truthfully, I believe it’s some of my very best writing.
So, here I am hurting, confused, and overwhelmed. Write, he said and so I shall; to honor his memory and because it’s really the only thing that makes sense right now. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be as faithful to this as I was the 365 Days of Carol Anne Cancer Diaries because as I’ve learned over the last seven years nothing is certain and nothing is set in stone.
~ Carol Anne