Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Love Looks Beyond

My appointment with the plastic surgeon yesterday went great. Stitches out (ouch!) and recovery proceeding nicely.

I do feel compelled to add, however, that as a fairly reserved pastor’s wife, it is just a teensy weensy bit outside my comfort zone to have long and involved discussions with a strange man about my, well, you know.

My main goal is just to hold on tightly to my sense of humor throughout those discussions and not take it all too seriously. Fortunately, my surgeon is quite comfortable and casual with the whole scenario and so he can chatter away rather blithely and breezily about my, well, you know.

Sigh. So many interesting experiences to accompany a person on her breast cancer journey.

While I’m on this subject, I want to mention how thankful I am that I was diagnosed with this disease in 2010 instead of in 1970 or even in 1990. Twenty or thirty years ago, women who had breast cancer had to keep it all hush hush and deal with a heartbreakingly heavy burden without getting much support from outside a very small circle. I’m sure that they were probably even reluctant to specify the kind of cancer they had, simply because it involved mentioning a private part of the body.

But now? Wow.

Now there is support, and assistance and publicity everywhere. In fact, I am part of an online discussion/informational/support group which is just amazing; I have learned more from the experiences of my fellow cancer sisters (in all different stage of the disease) than I could ever learn from a book or a doctor.

One sad thing that I’ve learned from my involvement with that group though, is that breast cancer can cause serious damage to a marriage. I have been shocked and disheartened to read some of the things husbands have said to their wives about their breast cancer. Absolutely. Unbelievable.

And the men don’t just say hurtful things, some of them actually leave their wives--just because they have breast cancer and just because they don’t look the same as when they were first married.

Am I writing this to bash men and husbands? No, not at all. I’m simply writing this because I’ve been so moved by the stories I’ve heard from women who have put a very human face on this statistic—my heart goes out to them as I think of them trying to deal with cancer treatment and a divorce, all at the same time.

I’m also writing this to say how thankful I am that I cannot relate to that study. Not at all. Steve has been incredibly compassionate, considerate and affirming throughout this whole journey. In fact, he just recently had a little extra personal money on hand, something which doesn’t happen very often. He went out shopping and ended up spending most of the money on a new outfit for me!

I’ve never spent even one tiny little moment worrying about whether or not Steve would leave me because I had a bilateral mastectomy. Do I look exactly the same as I did on our wedding night twenty-eight years ago? Nope.

Do any of us look exactly the same as we did on our wedding night? Probably not.

Age happens. Gravity does its thing. Sagging commences. Pounds appear. Inches creep in. Wrinkles show up. Knees creak. Joints crack. In fact, after a certain age, the Rice Krispies commercial about “snap, crackle and pop” starts to apply to your whole body as you get out of bed in the morning.

Bottom line?

Love looks beyond the sinking and the sagging. Love looks beyond the mastectomy scars. Love looks beyond the changes and challenges that the years bring to bear.

Love looks beyond. And sees only beauty.

And I, for one, am thankful.

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__________________________

Thanks to everyone who has chimed in about recycling experiences. I'll be referencing some of those comments in a soon-to-come post.

17 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

MN Mom said...

Becky, I am so glad to read that you continue to heal. What you have written about your cancer journey and what you have learned from others is very compelling. I, unfortunately, know two women whose husbands left them when they got breast cancer. One actually left during his wife's treatment. Your words about what makes a strong marriage are spot on! God's blessings to all the Smith family.

MaryH said...

Becky, you brought me to tears. You have all you need to make it through anything and you are blessed, and you confirm it and you speak of it and I am so very happy that you share it. God Bless, Steve.

P.S. A friend of mine is a breast cancer survivor and her husband left her because of her disease - it was too difficult for him - that sickens me to this day.

Sue G said...

Steve is definitely a keeper. And I am confident you will have many years together...years of support, love, laughter, and shared hearts.

Kim@Seasons of My Heart said...

I LOVE this post...and I LOVE you friend!

Praying for you...as you continue on this journey...and rejoicing with you.....that you are married to an amazing man!

Anonymous said...

Oh my, how Nathan looks so much like Steve!

That is shocking to hear how some husbands would leave a wife over a mastectomy. I know my husband would treat me like a queen, just as Steve is treating you. I am so glad you have him for support.

On another note, as a Floridian who has prepared for a lot of hurricanes, or you stocking up and prepping in case Earl wants to visit your area? I pray he does not, but better to be prepared than not! Jill-FL

Rachel said...

Those pictures are so sweet! (made me cry). I agree, Nathan looks so much like his dad - wow! I'm so glad you are healing well and that you were able to get it all behind you before Sarah started school.

My Aunt is one of those that got cancer back in 1990. She needed a double mastectomy right away but opted for a lump-ectomy instead because her husband told her he didn't think he could handle being married to "half a woman." She finally got it anyway and went into remission for 4 years. She never was able to afford re constructive surgery (insurance didn't cover it back then - it was considered optional surgery). The cancer returned to her lungs 4 years later and then to her brain. Back then they didn't have the pills to help keep it away. So, it was quite awful all around for her.

Mary said...

Hi Becky, I don't comment very often but continue to read and pray for your family. I just had to say that I LOVE this post. Your marriage is a blessing to all those around you. Take care.

Ann Martin said...

Beautiful blog today! I agree none of us are like we were when we married unless that just happened. I know I have gained "pounds" in the last 25 years and the hair is now gray/white whatever color--all natural, too. I earned that color! God is good and I am so thankful for my husband who puts up with a lot sometimes and has for the past 16 months. Praying for your safety as the storm approaches. Will you leave the area?

Jan said...

I am shocked and dismayed to see that you used an unforgivable word on your blog. You said "sagging!" Have you no shame?

Glad you had a good talk with your doctor; so very glad that Steve is so wonderful!

(And yes, I'm kidding about being shocked. Depressed, maybe--but not shocked.;)

EnglishGirl said...

Hi Becky, have been reading your blog for about 8 months now but this post made me feel compelled to comment!

I am so happy for you that your recovery is going to plan. Your words about Steve are SO true and really give me hope for the future! I am getting married next year and i know that my fiancee is just like that, and will stick by me whatever comes my way!

My dad has just beaten cancer this year, and my mum is a wonderful support to him and their relationship is strong just like yours!

Thank God for your continued health and happiness!

PS - the second picture of you and Steve is remarkable - you could easily be sat next to Nathan on that one!

Shannon said...

Listening to the news last night...are guys in the path of Earl? Prayers your not!

Jenna said...

Beautiful. What a beautiful marriage and love story!

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