My Spouse Has Cancer

What is it going to do to our marriage?

Facing Cancer With A Spouse To Love and Cherish Through Sickness

“You must be brave,” said my husband.” You must be brave, I thought; he must be kidding. The peril we faced suffocated me and being brave was as far removed from me as the life we knew and the future fast slipping from our grasp. Where would I find how to be brave amid this nightmare?

We are roped together on this climb. If you let go of the rope, I cannot fight. I will suffer enough, but my suffering will be unendurable if I must watch you suffer too.

Werner’s oncologist appointment ended with a Stage III Esophageal Cancer diagnosis at the stomach junction. The treatment protocol included months of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, followed by a radical partial esophagectomy, which I can’t begin to understand. Brave, I wasn’t brave, and I was numb.

Exhausted after the long day of hospital appointments, we headed for the exit doors, but I didn’t see the exit doors. Instead, I saw flashbacks of our son’s battle with brain tumors and neurosurgeries merging with Werner’s cancer fight. I was going down. I lagged behind before following him out the doors to the sidewalk under the noisy portico. When I thought I looked upbeat, I weaved my way around the people streaming in and out of the swinging doors until I walked directly behind him. We took only a few steps in this position when he stopped so abruptly that I almost bumped into him. Ignoring the people walking around us, he turned, faced me, and placed his hands on my shoulders. I looked up at him, surprised by his uncharacteristic public display, but the determination written in his eyes captured my utmost attention. And then his words, “You must be brave,” pierced my heart.

People walked by in slow motion, and the noise from the cars parked curbside with their engines idling wound down like the sounds of old phonograph records playing at the wrong speed. Time stopped when he locked his eyes on mine, and I saw Promise me you will be brave. I am forced to attempt the most life-threatening climb of my life. We are roped together on this climb; if you let go of the rope, I cannot fight. I will suffer enough, but my suffering will be unendurable if I must watch you suffer too.

As abruptly as he stopped me under the portico, he dropped his hands from my shoulders, turned from me, and walked down the sidewalk. Did I respond to his request? I must have said yes, I will be brave. Of course, I said yes. I don’t know if I said yes. I don’t know what I said or if I said anything at all. I stood there staring I clearly understood courage was embedded in his character and courage was how he chose to face cancer. When I became aware of the people skirting around me, I followed him, wondering how to honor his request. When I caught up with him, we walked several steps without speaking, when I felt him take my hand in his hand.

On The Drive Home -Darkness

darkness covered the winding mountain road along with my thoughts. and driving kept my tears in check, but nothing silenced his words; you must be brave, nor the questions taking root like uninvited garden weeds. Who will help me be brave when I see him suffer? Can I hope? Will he survive?
Brevity, courage, anger, weakness, and fear. Will my faith capitulate to worry? I held my breath as waves bore down on me, crushing rational thought, and leaving me to drown in panic. Somewhere in the crush, I heard a soft voice speak. Look at Jesus.

Tired with still miles to drive and desperate for a lifeline, I looked at
Jesus. The quiet voice spoke again. Your terror, like Peter’s, when he was
at the mercy of the Sea of Galilee storm is a keeping your eyes
on
Jesus moment. When Jesus appeared out of the mist like an apparition, stood on the storm-tossed waters, and said to Peter, Come, did Peter say I don’t trust you to
keep me from drowning?

No, Peter fixed his eyes on Jesus, stepped over the gunnels, and stood
on the waves.

The quiet voice spoke. Trust Jesus! Nothing else will work. Keep your
eyes on Him. He will keep you from drowning in your fears and show you the
courage to be brave.

Yes, I will trust God to supply the courage I need for Werner.

Really? I heard a mocking voice speak. You are really going to trust God
for the courage?

Now the mocking voice had my attention.

No, Peter fixed his eyes on Jesus, stepped over the gunnels, and stood
on the waves.

The quiet voice spoke. Trust Jesus! Nothing else will work. Keep your
eyes on Him. He will keep you from drowning in your fears and show you the
courage to be brave.

Yes, I will trust God to supply the courage I need for Werner.

Really? I heard a mocking voice speak. You are really going to trust God
for the courage?

Now the mocking voice had my attention.

Isn’t God the one who allowed this cancer? Shouldn’t you be angry at
God? Remember, who allowed your son’s brain tumor? And you thought it won’t get worse, but then, who allowed his second brain tumor? And now, cancer for Werner? Really think you can trust God?

It’s true. I can not change our circumstances and my anger at God will not heal Werner’s cancer. As my thoughts began to find calmer waters, I realized bitterness, panic, and despair overshadowed this journey with Us; he would be forced to expend more energy trying to fight his physical cancer while carrying my emotional cancer only adding to his suffering.

Exhausted and sad after the night drive home, I turned the car into our
driveway and shut down the engine despair left me. I understood God had reached down, and using the example of Peter’s trust, took hold of me and pulled me up out of the deep waters of my fears with the promise to be the God who I can trust for refuge, strength, and guidance for the needed courage honor my husband’s one request, “You must be brave.” Keeping my eye on Him, I was ready to begin.

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