I’m about to put in writing four of the most dreaded words I’ve ever said out loud in my life. They are words that instill mind-numbing fear in the heart of any person who has a loved one who has gone down the path that my family and I are about to begin:
My wife has cancer.
Despite nearly 30 years in the communication business, it sure is hard to convey those four little words to anyone.
But talking openly about this shocking revelation was actually Denise’s idea.
My wife happens to be a strong, funny, loving, beautiful woman. Despite her fairly shy demeanor, she really doesn’t like to pull many punches. And during one of the many times that we were holding each other after the doctor’s phone call last week, my wife announced to me that we would not be hiding or skulking around as her surgery draws near.
“Nobody who faces cancer should have to be ashamed or stigmatized,” she said. In her typically optimistic fashion, she continued, “I’m going to get this crap removed and beat it. And it would be just fine with me if you share what we’re going through in case it might help others who are experiencing the same thing.”
I told you she is amazing.
Actually, she also knows that for a bigmouth like me, talking about this challenge we face is a fairly therapeutic process, too. You see, everyone in my immediate family – mother, father, sister – has faced cancer or leukemia. My Mom and Dad both died by the time I was 21 and my sister is a breast cancer survivor. So poor Denise knows better than anyone how terrified I am of “the big C.”
But somehow, her courage and openness is making this entire situation easier on all of us.
Maybe if you or someone you love is facing cancer, our story will make it a bit easier for you, too.
The phone call last week was ominous. A few days after a fairly routine medical procedure, the doctor’s voice on our voicemail at home signaled that something was definitely wrong. “Denise, please call me as soon as possible to discuss your procedure.”
It didn’t help that the doc had already told us that if she called us within a few days, something was going to be wrong.
Boy, something was wrong, all right. The medical folks discovered that my always-healthy wife has endometrial cancer, a cancer in the lining of the uterus.
We’re encouraged by the doctor’s optimism. “If you have to have cancer,” she said, “this is the one to pick. It’s slow moving and as long as its stage one, the hysterectomy will more than likely get it all.”