My fiance has been my caregiver since I was diagnosed in October. I don't want to say he's my only caregiver, since my parents and close friends have taken on innumerable (often unpleasant) tasks. But many of them are out of town, so they can't be here all the time -- my man's been the main caregiver throughout.
He held me when I first heard the news, and all I could do was cry and make hysterical jokes and say "how the fuck could this happen". He came to every appointment, and trembled with me while we waited for test results. He worked his way through scientific papers and books. He held me at 4am when things were most grim. He played scrabble and kept me company during chemo sessions. He helped me administer some of the most disgusting remedies for disgusting side effects, which were multitudinous and varied.
And that doesn't even begin to describe what he did. Early on I told him that I was determined to squeeze every possible good experience out of the next few months, and so:
- He set up a tent in the living room one day, and put on nature documentaries, so we could pretend we were camping.
- He got so many terrible movies and comedy sketches... Airplane, Ron White, poor boy even watched Glee with me.
- He took me hiking and snake-hunting when I had breaks in treatment.
- He got me a table so I could eat breakfast in bed, and a hotel room so I could celebrate the chemo mid-way mark.
- He danced with me when I was up for dancing.
- He drove me through nature preserves when I wasn't up to walking.
He treated the loss of my breast with total love and adoration for my poor body (hey, my butt's always been cuter, anyway). He reached out for help when he needed it, and found an incredible social worker, which made me so deeply proud of his strength. Oh yeah, and he did all of this while working his ass off at his job.
Cancer is such a complex and personal thing to suffer, yet most of the time I felt like my partner was experiencing everything along with me. But there was one huge difference (ok, besides the total lack of boob) -- he could have left at any time. Just walked away, and the cancer would have stayed put. Early on my cancer story I deeply wanted him to. This is a pretty common thing, I hear -- feeling guilty that you're somehow 'doing this' to the people you love, and wanting to spare them the pain.
But he didn't walk away. And in December, he asked me to marry him.
I'm going to be hopelessly bawling when I'm giving my vows. And I'm not much of a crier. I imagine that the officiant will be all "Do you take this man..." and I'll be like "I d-boohooooohoooooohoohoo" and the ceremony will last hours. Maybe I can just write it on a piece of cardstock and hold it up.