I’m writing this in the hope that sharing my experiences can help other people going through similar situations
In April 2014 I took my wife Kellyanne for a birthday meal with some friends and our 4 month old daughter Freya. Life was pretty much as good as it had ever been as in the last couple of years we had brought our own house, got married and had a beautiful baby girl who we hoped would be there first of many.
During the meal Kel’s belly was making all sorts of gurgling noises which we joked about throughout the meal and thought little of it.
The following week the gurgling didn’t stop and we noticed Kel hadn’t gone to the toilet in several days so out of precaution we rang the Dr’s who said it was constipation which made sense and we never really questioned it.
However by the start of the following week Kel’s health deteriorated rapidly and we ended up rushing into A&E. Once there our fears were calmed again – its just constipation but they will keep her in until its sorted. One night in A&E became two, two became three and even in hospital Kel’s health deteriorated and a full week later I have a Dr telling me they have found a massive obstruction in her bowel which is probably cancer.
They passed me a bag of her possessions, including her wedding ring, and told me she would need major bowel surgery and they would call me when it was over.
That was the first of 3 occasions I’ve had to watch Kel disappear through a door for major surgery not knowing if she would come back out again.
It has now been nearly 3 years of ups but mostly downs – with all clears quickly being cancelled out by ‘i’m sorry but i think we’ve found something else’ which is now ‘i’m sorry but there is no cure for your wife’s cancer’.
After everything we’ve been through we are now facing into Kel having chemo for the rest of her life, Freya growing up without her mum and me having to raise Freya alone while trying to come to terms with loosing my wife and partner of over 10 years.
Kel and I are just 31 years old. Reading this I imagine everyone is thinking the same thing – this is absolutely shit. No one can put it into words and there really is nothing else to say to summarise the situation.
Over the last few years I’ve met and read about so many women who gone through what Kel is going through and witnessed incredible courage and endurance in even the most terrible of situations . However very little is written from the perspective of the partner so that’s the main point of why i’m writing this.
Specifically what i wanted to touch on is the stereotype that men are too macho to talk about their feelings. Most people who know me will probably say the same thing which is along the lines of ‘he deals with it all really well but he doesn’t really talk about it’.
Is that because i’m ‘too manly’ to talk or show emotion. Nope! Of course I get upset about it – i cry regularly about it but just because i don’t show it in front of people doesn’t mean i bottle it up.
Personally, I hate nothing more than being molly coddled when I am upset and it just makes me worse. I have been offered counselling regularly and have declined every offer not because I would see opening up as some form of weakness but because i truly don’t feel it will work for me but more importantly at the moment I have ways of dealing with things that I do feel work for me. Words will not make Kel well again and i have told my story over and over and over to so many people I have lost count. At present i don’t see how telling one more person will help. That’s not to say I have anything against counselling. I’m 100% sure in the future it is probably something I will need as things are unfortunately only going to get worse. I’ve had some really useful conversations with my GP and my current way of dealing with things is to massively cut back on alcohol, fatty foods, have daily exercise and lead as proactive a life as possible. At present this works for me and i feel a thousand times better recently in myself than I have in years despite the recent news that Kel cancer can not be cured
Overriding all of this though is my daughter Freya. I think everyone needs a purpose – and since the day Kel was diagnosed my purpose is that no matter what happens I will make sure that Freya has a happy childhood. As much as is physically possible we won’t let the things happening around her ruin her childhood. I would say this is the biggest factor behind me ‘dealing with it well’. It’s the same for Kel as well. If we are in tears every day and give up then what would that do to Freya?
In her formative years we cannot allow cancer to ruin her life as well. It is perhaps both mine and Kel’s proudest achievement that every single person who meets Freya compliments us on how happy, clever and beautiful she is. Don’t get me wrong we have had some really dark, shit times but the minute we turn to Freya everything goes back into focus and we are back to our purpose again – raise a happy little girl who only knows love.
I hope whoever is reading this has found this useful – especially if you are someone in a similar situation to me. I hope though no one has read this and taken from it to just dismiss counselling and other forms of support. I did have a period where i basically had depression but thankfully came through it but it is critical that you have a way of dealing with the stress and pain.
I currently do, but if it does ever stop working I will be straight back to my GP or my support network to talk about what else could work for me.
At the end of the day I’ve got a little girl to look after who needs me healthy both physically and mentally so I need to make sure i take care of myself as well as my family.