Cancer’s Effect On Marriage

In theory marriage is a wonderful concept. 2 people totally committed, in love, who want to do anything and everything for each other FOREVER.

In reality its an impossible dream.

I’m neither facing or nearing divorce (I hope), but I am the cause of extreme change in the course of a marriage and worried that finding a way back to ‘normal’ will be too much for one man to take.

When you take your wedding vows, you wholeheartedly mean them; sickness, health and everything in between. Here’s my theory as to why that is always set to be an issue…the average age that UK people get married is 30.8 years (men) and 28.9 years (women).

That essentially means you spend your 20’s living life, discovering who you are, what you want to do, spending money frivolously, learning to look after yourself AND find a person to commit yourself to for the ‘rest of your life’. That in itself is a lot of responsibility on its own…its no wonder 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce.

Add in an experience with cancer and you’re statistically more likely to separate…why?

This blog may be a massive generalisation – for that I apologise. I’m just writing about how life feels at this moment; when you are through chemo, awaiting surgery and still unsure as to how this diagnosis will really end. When diagnosed 5 months ago I truly thought I would be having a little operation and that would be that, life wouldn’t really change, nothing would impact on us too much.

I was wrong.

My course of treatment was going to include a minimum of 6 (maybe 8) chemotherapy sessions, an operation and then radiotherapy.

Step into my husband’s shoes from this point, enough is written about how the one with cancer feels, how hard it is – but that other person who has none of the symptoms, side effects and immediate sympathy of those around them instantly has a whole new burden of responsibility added to their life.

They are not carriers of the disease but they will be carrying you for an unknown measurement of time…

No one tells you how cancer will affect you emotionally, it’s skated around but no one warns you that by half way through chemo a dark cloud is likely to have well and truly descended – no matter how positive you are, daily life will just feel too much.

I had days I didn’t want to talk to anyone, staying in bed to be useless was THE best option and very few of us will lead lives that allow that.

Carrying on and survival are the new ‘normal’.

Physical side effects of cancer treatments can often be covered, you will still be unrecognisable to you and that is tough to deal with personally – so imagine how the other half feels…

To me, I have just been a massive wasted bet, who wants to be married to someone who is potentially prone to such a terrible illness that needs a carer in their thirties. I’d totally understand him cashing in now and taking the winnings – coz what more is there to be won?!

I wish I had answers, I wish I knew the ‘proper’ route of getting back to that person or if that person even exists anymore. I’m nearing the end of treatment now and I am able to see flickers of the old me returning, but I know I’m still a long way off and the guilt never gets any easier to deal with. Every day I feel a burden and a dead weight to the marriage I entered for more reasons than just for the doubt cancer presents to our ’till death us do part’.

[At this point I paused writing, for around 6 weeks as I just couldn’t write an ending].

I’m now 2 months post chemo and 1 month post op…miraculously in the haze that follows. It is good news, the cancer is physically extracted and I have noticed I wake up a little more hopeful each day and a little more ‘pre-cancer’ me. It’s not quick, its not complete, but I do catch myself feeling ‘normal’ more often and that has to be a good sign!

I have to live with the belief it will be ok – its not as bad as you think or feel it is and it will get better.

It just takes time…that one magic ingredient none of us can control.

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