A Wife’s Post on Cancer

My wife proofreads my posts before I put them here.  She’s a better editor than I am and catches a lot of really embarrassing errors I make.  I also find her input on my writing to very valuable to me.  Heather is a bit of a writer herself and has been doing some writing of her own.  On Sunday something snapped in my brain and I wrote three posts for this blog and presented them all to her for editing and input.  At one point in the conversation she responded to something I wrote saying, “I should write a post for your blog.”  “Yes, you should” was my immediate answer – after all she is affected by this cancer thing too and it’s time you heard from her.  So here his a guest post from my wife (without any editing from me).

Heather writes:

If there are too many grammatical errors in Andrew’s posts, you can blame me. I get the red pen and paper before you get to see it. Don’t be too judgmental, I catch a lot of the errors. Remember that he’s the one with the English degree – I was just born there 🙂

I was bravely invited to write this post on hubby’s site, and I’m not about to waste any opportunity to express my sincere feelings. OK, I guess it shouldn’t be this much fun – we are talking about cancer.

I’ll make one thing clear. I have no idea what it is like to have cancer, and I don’t want to find out. But, I have – probably like many of you – been brushed by its horror.

I do not use that word lightly.

My first awareness of the word was in the early 1960’s when our Auntie Kathleen (a favorite) came to stay with us for a week and then disappeared into hospital never to be seen again. No goodbye’s, only whispers later of the words “stomach cancer”.  It came back to visit the family in the mid-1970’s when we got the news that my nephew (eight years old) had a malignant brain tumor and had spent eight hours in surgery. When I was over for a visit a few years later, a very mature Simon took his four-year old cousin under his care and tolerated with a bemused smile the fact that Kegan continually addressed him as “her” or “she.” Sadly, Simon again struggled with a relapse and was only sixteen when he died in 1985. Around that time my sister Joan was diagnosed with breast cancer. She lived actively whilst dealing with all the devastation belonging to the disease, for almost fifteen years. In 1999 her body was ravaged and cancer finally took her.  In 1996, I got a phone call from my sister Hazel on July 3rd saying that her husband, Malcolm had died that night. I was able to fly out the next day and be there to help with the funeral. Malcolm had four short months to struggle with stomach cancer. He was a proud Welshman and wouldn’t allow my sister to tell anyone he was sick until a couple weeks before he died. I had just quit my job in November of 2006 and was looking forward to nurturing a deeper relationship with my mother-in-law, when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My deepening relationship turned into daily visits to the nursing facility where she died five short weeks later. A year ago this month my sister-in-law Marina was diagnosed with cancer (an un-nameable mass) and she was on a course of chemotherapy, which was going well.  She and my brother were having a short holiday break between treatments when her duodenum ruptured. I got the call from my sister on July 12, the day she died. I happened to have my three grandsons staying at the time.

I’ll make another thing clear. Writing has a strange way of leading rather than following. This was not the route I had envisioned for today!

I can’t leave it here though. Cancer is as much about living as it is about dying.

The Simon I remember, was the gentlest, most thoughtful fourteen year old, with wispy hair and a dry sense of humour. Joan was the older sister who had a special identity with me – I was reminded often of our similarity. She continued to teach Sunday school, lead history tours in the city of Hull, and use her creativity. I remember her saying once, “People say I’m brave, but what choice do I have?”  Joan struggled for years with the ravaging disease, but never stopped living.  I was able to have one last telephone conversation with Malc, a few days before died. What I remember is his humour. I asked some benign thing about the football he was watching (the world series was on), and his dry reply was 100% Malc.  “Mother “ – we daughter-in-law’s called her that – lived her final five weeks with a grace and dignity that humbled me. Memories of Marina go back to Sunday school days and I had regular phone conversations her during treatment. I remember one particularly well. She had run up the garden to answer the phone and she was laughing and saying, “I didn’t know I could still run.” She knew her time was limited and she took delight in her view of the Malvern hills from her home. I know she thought about death, but she focused on life’s beauty, her friends, and her family.

Well, this post isn’t about Andrew at all. I was going to have fun with the opportunity given me to be the – behind the screen “revealer”.

There is one more thing I want to say.

I learn a lot about what cancer is and about how Andrew feels through his blogs.

He doesn’t often sit at the dinner table and share that stuff.

And, even though – when he states that it is time for bed – I know he’s going to disappear to his computer (to check blog responses), I’m thankful that he is writing his cancer blog. He is living. He’s writing…and I’ve gotta just sneak this in … “too bad it had to be cancer to get him writing regularly! “

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I work in the high tech world doing software release engineering Then I got prostate cancer Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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