On January 20, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. A month later, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. What the breast cancer did to knock the wind out of me emotionally, the surgery did physically.
In the past few weeks my husband, Corey, has had to help me do a lot of things that I didn’t figure I’d need assistance with until I was in my 80s. You know, like sitting on a toilet.
To give you a glimpse of recent days in our home, the following is an incomplete list of normal everyday things breast cancer made it necessary for Corey to help me with.
- Sitting down.
- Repositioning myself in my chair.
- Standing up.
- Scratching my itchy nose when my hands couldn’t reach that far. (When I was coming out of anesthesia this was torture!)
- Brushing my teeth.
- Combing my hair.
- Washing my hair.
- Going to the bathroom.
- Getting dressed.
- Applying chapstick.
I’ll refrain from listing the gross my-wife-just-had-major-surgery stuff he’s had to deal with. Suffice it to say, some of the things he’s done for me make me a little lightheaded to think about.
I am steadily improving, but it is a long rode. It is amazingly challenging to function without the use of ones chest muscles, but my legs are learning to make up for the lack of strength in my upper body.
Corey is usually just a text away (as my screenshot shows) ready to take care of my every need, no matter how small or weird.
And at the end of the day, we sit side by side in our loveseat recliner and watch episodes of M*A*S*H* while I wait for my pain meds to kick in. During that time, I hold his hand and wonder how he can love me so much. How does he have so much to give? All is well with the world in those minutes.
Cancer still sucks. Recovering from a bilateral mastectomy will not make the highlight reel of my life. But as much as I have loved Corey over the past 18 years, I love him even more since cancer came. Without the detour my life took this winter, I would still be a happily married woman who enjoys Netflix with her husband, but with cancer I am a happily married woman who has a deep and tangible understanding of selfless love.
It’s not been easy. It’s not been fun. But in a very real way, it has been good.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.