Cancer leaves Scars that you Cannot See

For those of you who may not be aware, I recently went through my second round of Cancer surgery.  If you’re interested in the kind, or the details, click here or here.

I’m cured at the moment.  Everything is fine.

Something unexpected happened to me the other day, though.

I sat on the floor, packing up the paperwork after finishing our taxes for the year.  I set one folder aside—the one with all the important investment information.  I realized that I was the only one in the house that even knew this folder existed, so I didn’t want to bury it in the filing cabinet.

My husband entered the room, and grabbed something from the table.

“Sweetie,” I said.  “Just in case anything ever happens to me, I need you to take this blue folder to a financial advisor.  He will tell you what to do.”

His face grew pale.  His expression blank.

I held up the folder.  “I will keep it on top so you can find it easily if you ever need it, okay?”

He stared at me for a moment more, before he burst into tears.  “It was just a little cancer spot,” he sobbed.  “You’re not allowed to die!”

I sat on the floor, stunned.  Actually dying was the furthest thing from my mind at the moment.  I was just trying to be a responsible adult.

I jumped up and held him, his tears dampened my blouse.  “Sweetie, that’s not what I meant.  I just want to make sure you and the kids would be okay if…”

“Don’t say it!”  His body shook in my arms.  “I can’t do this without you.  You can’t die first.  You can’t leave me alone.  I need you.”

“Sweetie, don’t worry.  I’m not going to die.”

We held each other for a while, silent.

My husband is my rock.  He stood beside me, holding my hand while they cut the cancer from my arm.  He changed my bandages.  He took care of me.  It never occurred to me that he was just as scared as I was.

For the first time in months, the children didn’t interrupt our brief moment of intimacy.  He needed that.

Maybe I needed that too.


32 responses to “Cancer leaves Scars that you Cannot See

  1. I completely comprehend this scenario. Although Mr B never once showed his concerns after I’d told him I had suspected skin cancer, he obviously did worry. Still does. I realised this when just last night, my daughter was talking to me about the scar on my arm from the mole removal, and I told her not to be worrying about me because I’ll be fine just as soon as they’ve removed some more to be sure they’ve got all the disease out. And she said: But daddy said it was something serious. At which point, I knew he’s been fretting way more than he’d let on. Far too easy to forget when we’re dealing with our own emotions through these kinds of things.

    And yeah, your post brought tears to my eyes.

  2. This post made me cry, and so did the comments, while I’m sitting here in my office at work. My best friend died almost a year ago, and her husband, author Jonathan Eli, didn’t know what to do about anything. Luckily, he had help. But it’s not a bad idea to tell people what needs to be done in the event we have to leave this earth. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and I have a friend who I plan on giving all my passwords and other information to in case my husband can’t handle things when I’m gone. The problem is, no one wants to hear anything about the possibility of that loss, so they don’t want to talk about “just in case”. Your husband sounds like such a loving man, and you’re really lucky to have him.

  3. Its taken me a long time to find the words to respond to this post. And I still don’t think I have them yet.
    Thank you for sharing such a touching story (and those of you in the comments too) and bringing to light the realities of the aftermath. The scars really do run deep and, as you say, sometimes we just don’t know how deep.

  4. Woah. This post made me cry, Jennifer. I’ve never had cancer, but there’s something about this tender moment with your husband that just got me. I guess we can all relate to that –exactly how much we depend on our spouses–and how awful it would be if anything ever happened. I’m so glad you’re a survivor, and it’s not anything you have to worry about right now. And I’m glad you’ve got an awesome hubby to stand by you, thick or thin.

  5. Pingback: ROWin’ in the Rain – Goals Update #6 « shanjeniah

  6. I came to the same sudden realization when our second child died at 12 days old. Through all those days of living in limbo, and through his death, Jim was my rock – And he held our son as he died.

    Then, for another hour and more after that, until I could scarcely bear to be in the little room in the NICU with them.

    Later, he told me, “I held him so long because I knew I would never get to hold him again. I wanted to hold him on my shoulder, but that’s where I hold his brother, (then 22 months old, now almost 11 and far too big to hold at all!), and I knew I never could again if I did,”

    So few words. Such depth of anguish.

    I will never forget.

  7. I came by to say thank you for the visit and follow. As with all your comments here, I add nothing new really, just another thank you for the reminder of what truly is important in life . . . cherishing the moments with our love ones.
    ~Abundant blessings and peace. Thank you!!

  8. dianewordsmith

    Jennifer, I tell people these days that I’m embracing my whiteness. 🙂 Plenty of sunscreen for me!

  9. dianewordsmith

    Sorry that you had this scare but so glad to know that you’re ok. 🙂

  10. Donna B. McNicol [@donnabmcnicol]

    You brought tears to my eyes…I read your first two posts, then this one. I lost my husband to cancer in 2004. I was the one who did all the finances and all the online stuff, fortunately. Fast forward to 2012, I’m remarried to a widower. We are both very aware of losing a spouse or loved one unexpectedly.

    There are so many things to be aware of, to take care of, medical directives are imperative (Google Five Wishes for a great way to handle this). Then think about your online presence. Would your spouse know how to notify Facebook, any forums or groups you host, post in blogs, etc. You get the idea.

    I made both my husband and my son admins on all my blogs. I have a list of access for all the websites I maintain. Any groups I founded or forums I host have multiple admins. All….just in case.

    Thank you for sharing your story, it’s an important one.

  11. Thanks for the good tears. it’s so hard to remember our men are scared, too. My husband is like yours. He wouldn’t let me know how freaked he was about something. Glad all your cancer is gone and may you never, ever, ever get any more.

  12. I cried a little too. I’m glad you’re okay. Stay that way . . . please.

  13. Cancer takes such a toll on so many levels. We lost my father-in-law to colon cancer (please get those colonoscopies starting at 50), but my mother is a 16-year survivor of lung cancer. But we have to be ready for the unthinkable. It could be a car accident on the way home from work. And we have to let those in our lives know how much they mean to us.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. And I hope we can all learn from them.

  14. What a touching story and I thank you so much for sharing it with us. My husband’s doctor told him that if he didn’t quit smoking, he runs a high risk of getting mouth cancer in the near future (cells are already precancerous). So far, he hasn’t been able to quit. The other day I got angry and mentioned the fact that he didn’t have any life insurance and with no significant savings in the bank, he needed to take care of his health because we needed him. He looked at me like I had just kicked him but he needed to know that if something happened to him, we’d not only have to deal with not having him around, but also with the financial mess we’d be in.

    Personally, I have also had a scare with skin cancer many years ago. The biopsy discovered precancerous cells and just the idea of cancer scared me half to death. I also lost my Mom and grandfather to cancer. This terrible disease has touched us all, in one way or another.

    I hope you are done with it for good Jennifer. xo

  15. My husband is a two time survivor so I can totally relate to this post. Watching him fill out his will and 5 wishes form (being in his early 20’s) and basically preparing for the day he’d no longer be here was excruciating. I’m happy to say he’s surviving thanks to an autologous stem cell transplant. But still, I can relate to your husband’s fears of losing his best friend, wife, mother to his children. I’m so happy you’re doing better, and that the two of you had the chance to share that special moment. 🙂

    Beautiful post, totally speaks to the heart and reminds us to express our appreciation to those we love.


  16. thecircleofit

    oh wow…so moved by your story.,….well done fo rbeing so brave….have you by any chance heard of the documentary / book Craxy Sexy Cancer? i just did an entry on it….i wish you health and a speedy recovery…all the best

  17. Oh thank you Jennifer. After a good cry I am writing to say how right you are…. Cancer leaves scars you can not see. I so understand this on a daily basis, because at Christmas 2004, I lost my “Rock” and best friend to Glioblastoma (brain cancer). It just wasn’t supposed to happen that way… We had made it through 29 years of marriage, had teen age boys and plans to make for retirement. Now here it is going on 7 1/2 years later and I sit with those silent inner scars. A grandson with his name, that he will never get to see… It wasn’t supposed to be this way…. So hold them and prepare them, even if it’s by putting the blue folder on top. Cry with them, live your life with them, like it’s the last time you will get to see them. Taking nothing for granted, as you have found out, because life is to short and fragile. ~Franny