Right before Eric was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011, I just knew something wasn’t right. Now, I have a tendency to be a little bit of a hypochondriac, but the excruciating headaches, vomiting and not being able to bend down to tie a shoe should be an indication to anyone that something wasn’t right. After much begging and pleading, I finally got him to see a doctor – to which they recommended that he get a CAT scan.
I will never forget the moment that Eric walked out of the exam room at the hospital and said “they don’t want me to go anywhere, I think they found something.” My heart sunk deep into my stomach and from that moment on, our lives would change forever. We were then brought back to a consultation room where the Radiologist proceeded to tell us that Eric had a large mass in his brain, about the size of a baseball. My first question to the doctor was “it is CANCER?” On December 20, 2011 -about 10 days after we got the news Eric had a mass in his brain, and one brain surgery later, our greatest fear was confirmed – Eric had grade 4 glioblastoma brain cancer. I dreaded asking what the prognosis was, but I did anyway; six to twelve months is the typical prognosis for this type of brain cancer.
When people see me now, they ask how I have been so strong, and trust me, that wasn’t always the case. If anyone knows Eric, they know that he is the greatest person in the world. He would never hurt a fly, is nice to everyone and is a role-model to all, seriously. I spent the first few days after he was diagnosed wondering “why him?” There were so many terrible people in the world, why would he be given this terrible disease with such a horrible outcome? He had a three year old child that he needed to teach basketball and baseball to. He had his whole life ahead of him. When I shared my “why him” thoughts with Eric, his response was “why not me, I can beat it, “and from that moment on my outlook changed – it had to.
An important lesson that I have learned in all of this is to remain positive. When someone is diagnosed with cancer, it affects us all. It took me a long time to realize that while Eric had to fight the physical and mental battle with cancer, there is also an emotional battle that people surrounding the patient also experience. I have found that the best way to fight that battle is to try to remain positive. For me, that meant I had to stop “Googling” brain cancer, since many of the stories I read didn’t shed any light of inspiration. I also knew that I had to try to keep our family routine as normal as possible – do not let the cancer change your life. I am not saying you can’t take time to grieve or be sad, because those are important emotions in moving forward, but do not let it consume your life. To this day when thoughts creep into my mind about the “what-ifs” when I try to analyze the future, I try hard to squash them and move on. As the love of my life says, “what good does it do to worry?”
So, if you are the spouse of someone diagnosed with cancer, know that you will be fighting a battle too, it’s just that yours will be an emotional one. Find that one thing keeps you positive and helps you to keep fighting. It is important to remain strong and be the best person you can be in their support system. When something terrible is thrown your way, you never know what good is waiting around the corner.