I’m not in the habit of talking about my marriage. I’m not comfortable referring to M as “my rock” or “my hero” – it just feels weird to me. Perhaps it’s the decades we’ve been together or the miles, laughs and tears we’ve shared, but I’d describe him more of a copilot than anything else. People always ask me how he’s doing and how he’s handling things, and honestly, I’m not sure I can answer that in the truest sense. You see, I can only answer how he’s been treating me, helping out around the house, or picking up slack with the kids, but I can’t really say for sure how he feels about my breast cancer on a day to day basis.
When I was first diagnosed in October, M came to many of my appointments with me. I wanted him to meet my team of doctors and understand what was to come. We laughed in the waiting room at CPMC when I was given a hospital gown with a tube that inflated it with warm air, rendering me twinsies with the Stay-Puff Marshmellow man; he rubbed lotion on my back and shoulders when I was sore post surgery; he filled glasses of water on my night stand with just the right amount of ice; and he allowed me to officially take over the Tivo in our bedroom with my important shows.
But before you give him the title of Nicest Husband in the World, a word of caution! As my recovery progressed and I began to leave the bedroom for small outings to the kitchen, and then when I graduated to the entire house, and then when I started taking showers again, and being able to lift my arms to blow-dry my hair, his treatment of me slowly changed. He would complain when we were out of milk, give me grief about the piles of laundry, and make a few snide remarks about the quality level of my television shows.
“Can I ask you something?” he’d start out gently, as if he really wanted to know, “Do you feel trashy when you’re watching this?” Whether it was Real Housewives of New York, the OC, Beverly Hills or even Revenge, this question was asked a lot.
[If you really, really want to know what the most shameful TV show I’ve ever watched is, I will tell you. But you have to promise to watch, so you will understand. It’s that trashy, and yes it’s that good. One world: Bridalplasty. Go ahead, look it up. What I would give for a “Where are they now” reunion show.]
I’d say that the biggest shift that we experienced was that time appeared to stand still after the diagnosis. Everything else faded away – and the priority became making appointments with doctors, getting our team in place, getting a surgery date, getting a second opinion, and navigating the myriad of genetic testing that’s available. As a planner and a doer, this was quite a detour for me. Instead of planning Miss J’s birthday party, or the kids’ summer camp schedules, or our spring break trip, I was not comfortable making plans for the future.
Who knows what we’re in for, we both thought. Better just to wait, we told ourselves.
And wait we did. For a long time. Through the Oncotype and its delays, through the Mammaprint and its delays, through the 2nd surgery and its complications, and so on.
And so now – finally! – while I’m in a quiet phase of feeling good, we appear to be back to our old selves. I’m playing tennis, trying to keep up with the laundry, spending many hours of my day doing work for SPARK, and M is at the office, going to Warriors’ games, hoping that the Giants have a good season ahead of them, and offering up the occasional diss to Tamara, Vicki and Kyle.