I met my wife in 2004 and we married in 2005. I was 22 and she was 20. Just kids. We each knew what we wanted from life when we met, and we had finally found someone who desired to share a similar future; a family with kids. We had the perfect future in mind with each other. However, it has definitely not turned out anything like we imagined. We separated in 2011 for 4 months when our first boy was only 2. We fought like hell to keep our marriage alive and make it better than it was before. That trial in life made us stronger and closer. We have since had 2 more boys. They are now 10, 6 and 4.
About 3 years ago we decided we would adopt a girl and began raising money for an adoption. We had our home study and were setup with an agency who was actively looking for us. In October of 2018 we had just finished a concert fundraiser for the adoption. It was the largest amount of donations we had received to date and we were extremely excited. This was happening! We were finally on our way to having a daughter. Our boys couldn't wait to finally have a sister. They were always giving us their quarters to put towards the adoption. We were on top of the world. Everything was going according to plan.
A few weeks later (Oct 2018) we would find ourselves sitting in an Oncologists office. My wife was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. What the hell?? This happens to other people, not us! The next 3 months felt like a giant blur I can hardly remember. There were many tests, scans, oncologists. We hated all of them. Sitting in each visit not believing this was real. This had to be a mistake. We had to put the adoption on hold which hurt, a lot. So much crying. So much anger that this was happening to her. After all her tests were done we did have some good news. It was only in one breast and a couple of her lymph nodes under the arm. Nowhere else in her body and it was very slow growing cancer.
Here we are, almost a year later. We've settled with a team of doctors 3 hours away from us. She's made good progress but now we're at a place where she's having to choose a different treatment path. I have learned so much about myself and about my wife during this year. She has obviously been extremely tired this past year as she's done so many different treatments in our holistic world. A lot that has improved her health. She's sacrificed a lot by switching to a whole food vegan diet to cut sugar and many other things. I respect her so much. I honestly do not know if I would have handled this like she has if it were me that were diagnosed. She has been a freakin' badass fighter. I have struggled with a lot of things during this though. Asking so many "What if's"… what if I'm left alone to raise 3 boys? What if I can't do it? What if I die before all this? How could GOD who is supposed to be so GOOD let this happen to us? I struggled to focus on normal life every day. I struggled in my faith.
I'm an introvert. I have a huge giant world inside my head that most don't see or hear about. That's why I write like this. I have been trying my hardest to express how I feel but at the same time be strong. My wife told me at her last appointment that she did not have good news, "I need you to not be strong right now. I need someone to fall apart with right now." That really helped me know I didn't need to pretend to be OK if I'm not. It's hard for me to find that balance in being strong but also not falling apart because I feel like that would feed her own fears in all of this. We are definitely the closest we have ever been in our 15 years together.
I have had to for the most part, be the single parent because there's a lot my wife is not able to keep up with. She has to cook two meals every time too if she does cook. One for her on her diet and the food for the kids. It's been extremely hard for both of us this past year. It's been my pleasure to serve her when she needs something though. To become more selfless than I have been in our marriage. I make her dinner when she's stuck in bed because she is paralyzed with flu-like symptoms. I come home from working all day and tell her she can just go lay down. I've got dinner, the kids, bedtime. All of it. THIS is what our marriage vows were about. This is what your marriage vows are about if you're married. Better or Worse. Sickness and in health. This shit is HARD. Life is HARD. Marriage is HARD. Parenting in this is HARD. Love goes way past 'feelings'. We constantly have ups and downs with how we're feeling and dealing each day. It's different every day. Sometimes we're very well and other times we're numb and don't want to talk about the cancer. A glass of whiskey or a beer is what is needed that night after the kids are in bed.
If you are a believer reading this - God will give you more than you can handle so that we lean into Him for help. I have had to learn that this last year. People like to say God won't give you more than you can handle. That's just not true. When we think that it makes us extremely bitter towards God. God is a good God even in our dark times. He never promised life would be easy. He did promise to be my strength when I am not strong. We have been blessed with friends and family helping us with meals, the kids, life. There's no way in hell we would be as good as we are in such a terrible situation. I am thankful for each and every one of them. They cooked us meals, they watched our kids when we have had doctor visits or just needed to get away with each other.
Our 10-year-old had moments in the first 6 months of randomly falling apart crying that he doesn't want Mommy to die or even me to die. It's tough seeing your kid break down like that and you try to assure them you have no plans of going anywhere any time soon. But you can't just tell them straight up you will never leave them. All I can do is hold them and cry with them. That's hard.
Hold your loved ones close. Tell them you love them. Listen to them. Shut the hell up and stop trying to fix them all the time and just hold and love them in silence. Don't take each other for granted. Make each other feel heard. Put your damn cell phone down and look each other in the eyes when you're talking. Laugh while you fight through the darkness you go through in this life.
If you're going through some dark times in your life too I highly recommend the book "Hope in the Dark" by Craig Groeschel. Very good book someone recommended to me when I was at my darkest moment during this whole ordeal with my wife.
My name is Shane. I’m a husband and father to 3 boys. They are ages 10, 6 and 4. My wife and I have been married for 14 years. We live on 7 acres in a suburb of Nashville TN. My wife’s a stay-at-home mom and I work as a Business Systems Analyst for the same company for the last 16 years. I love Jesus, sarcasm, whiskey, craft beer and memes.