You can be the man or woman of your partner going through breast cancer but here are a few thing that totally threw me for a six when I had my stage 3 breast cancer.
Lets first talk about my man, quickly while he is asleep and can’t stop me hehe.
Sam is a mans man. He has a hairy face, a big body that works in a timber mill, a shaved head etc. many people would cross the road (I imagine) if they saw him walking along the road with is dog (staffy X) Kelly.
His fiance (me) has stage 3 breast cancer and you will see a whole new man. Yes. he still has the shaved head. He still has the goatie beard, black clothes, frown but, you wouldn’t want any other man to watch over you.
At the risk of having a scowl and what not from this man of mine, let me tell you how he made having stage 3 breast cancer a wee bit easier for me.
1. He listened. When we went to see the doctor to confirm the cancer, as I sobbed into a tissue, he took in all of the details and ‘next steps’ issued from my doctor. He took down the surgeon appointments and what cancer ‘we’ were dealing with.
2. At the surgeon office he took note of the cancer I had, let the surgeon ‘feel me up’ without knocking him out. Trusted and admired this surgeon who had had a wee bit of a play with the ‘girls’ and appreciated the surgeon taking into account that it wasn’t just me dealing with cancer, Sam too was dealing with it.
3. This is the big one. He asked to see the after surgery body. He gave me the option to take my time in showing him but advised me that the longer I took to show and reveal the ‘new me’, the harder it would be. He did give me what ever time I needed but whilst in hospital, he made it clear that the longer I took, the harder it would be and looking into his eyes, I knew that it was a now or never moment. He didn’t push me. He didn’t give me any guilt but just gave me the facts. The honesty of how it would be harder the longer I left it. This gave me the confidence to show him the wound. The bomb site. The boobless chest that would be like this for quite some time. And do you know what. It was ok. Sam knew that he could deal with it but it was me, with the worry and concern that he couldn’t or wouldn’t deal with it that was the issue. I honestly felt more love from my Sam that moment that I had ever felt before. That is a huge statement because this man of mine has given me so much love and support from the moment we met.
4. We are home. Sam and I are alone, in the living room and in all honesty, I don’t know what we were discussing or how we came to this but Sam wanted me to ‘reveal’ my chest. Even though I thought I had gotten through the hurdle in the hospital, it was obvious now that I hadn’t. I didn’t want to take my t-shirt off. I didn’t want to take off the Berlie and Miss Fluff but boy they were giving me grief. Why couldn’t I just go to the en suite and just remove the bra and fluff and be comfy? Sam wanted to be there. He wanted to support me. He knew, I hadn’t gotten over the fear, the embarrassment of revealing the missing Leftie. He didn’t push or embarrass or persuade… he just gently advised he was there. I removed my support bra and miss fluff, removed my top and he gently put his hand on this missing part of me. The part that used to house a breast, a womanly part of me. His hand warmed my skin, his eyes showed and proved the love he felt. His kiss was warm and loving. His words were as these… “I was a boob man, now, I am a You man’. Bloody Fuck! What on earth did I do to deserve this man? What ever it was I am ever so thankful, so grateful. My boob man was now a me man. He loved me. Not the sex. Not the boobs. Me!
5. Sam, my timber mill worker, hairy and sweary, is the love and support that I need. Yes, I have my family, my Daughter, my friends but at the end of the day, I lay down in bed with a man who accepts the one boob me. The me that has breast cancer. The me who will soon be hairless. The me that might be quite sick. The me that will me more tired than usual. The me that is sore and achey. The me that will be another boobless and girlie inside (hysterectomy) missing. This manly man, will hold me gently and lovingly and still know that I am the one he will marry one day. The man that makes me feel loved, adored, worth it, beautiful and hugable… this is the man that will one day be my husband.
6. Sam has asked me what I want to do before the chemo takes away my energy. He will take me where ever I want, do what ever I want to ensure I live my life before I take the ‘chemo break’ where I will be lethargic and poorly. Sam hasn’t asked for a break, hasn’t demanded he have a bit of attention and notice… he has made sure everything is about me. He has made sure all of my favourite food as been available in the hospital and at home. He growls at me if I am doing too much, checks my wounds and medication intake…Please, do not judge a book by it’s cover because my Sam would be one you might bypass but boy, he is the one I want right here beside me, loving me, looking after me…..
7. Sam has let me be me. Previously I have noticed Sam be a little curious at my choices of footwear, clothing, hairstyles etc but since my Stage 3 Cancer…. he is free and easy. What does it matter if I want to wear a red hat with an orange sweater? Previously Sam would have been absolutely mortified but now, he would happily see me in a rainbow beanie, purple scarf and white lace dress (no, this outfit hasn’t occured) . Sam has tried hat after hat on my head in preparation for my chemo baldness.
I think my point is as follows. Sam and I had totally different ‘styles’ when we met. I was more than happy with his all black, goatie, shaved head appearance. Sam on the other hand was a wee little more concerned about my ‘out there’ ideas on dress and appearance. I totally understand his concerns back then because oh gee, Accalia certainly had some, shall we say, interesting ways of dress entering the outdoors and many times I bit my tongue.
At the end of the day, does it really matter? Who cares if your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend etc wears a beanie of rainbows? A shirt of bulldogs, pants in the English flag? When your partner comes home, wraps their arms around your neck with the most loving of embraces, does it matter what they wear? Does it matter if they are missing a breast? Does it matter if their testicles have been removed from testicular cancer? A big piece of their leg missing from a surgical removal? Their heart loves you. They still want to protect you. Love you. Spend their life with you.
Take that love, unconditionally and accept it.
I struggled when I was told my lovely leftie breast was going to be removed not because of how I felt, but because of Sam. He was a boob man and I worried that he wouldn’t love me anymore because leftie would be gone. I needed to trust in his love, unconditional love. He doesn’t give a shit that leftie is gone. What he does give a shit about is that I am still here. I am here to love him, nag him, make his lunches etc. A real man doesn’t care if you lose a boob or two, he just cares that you are still here. To love him and for him to love you. Yep, I am one of the lucky ones.
I have a Sam Wilkinson in my life.