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My Husband’s Cancer

October 30, 2017


To see a picture of my family on social media, we look almost perfect. Two beautiful, blue-eyed blonde little girls, an athletic, handsome husband and of course, the quintessential golden retriever puppy and me. Social media is this century’s biggest PR machine for our companies as well as our personal lives. But, social media often doesn’t tell the story behind the photo.

My family is amazing, but severely broken. Not only do I continue to recover from a brain injury, but my husband was diagnosed recently with esophageal cancer. This is the kind of diagnosis that takes your breath away, that leads me to cry openly walking down the street because the pain and fear inside are so intense that it is wild and uncontrollable.

By the time his cancer was detected, it has left him with a 6 centimetre tumour and cancer that has spread to his stomach and surrounding lymph nodes. If you were to go on the web site and search for his prognosis, you would understand why we are so terrified.

Every time we look at the girls, our hearts break for them. They are 6 and 8 years old. They know their Dad has cancer, but we have kept the outlook very positive for them. We don’t want to burden them with worries about the struggle their hero is facing as his treatment begins, to fight like he never has fought before, to save his life. To live to see them graduate elementary school, high school, university, to walk them down the aisle at their weddings and to meet our grandchildren. There is still so much ahead of us.

These girls have already given up so much. My youngest was an infant and my eldest was 3 years old when my head came crashing down on a concrete floor after I fainted, in some strange twist of fate, during a standing up x-ray in 2012. I had to limit my time severely around stimulation, which meant they were sent away to live with my parents for a while and then when they returned, my husband assumed the role of primary care giver while I spent most of my time upstairs in the bedroom, resting. I listened to my daughters scream for me while Jeff wrestled with them downstairs to do his best to put pony tails in their hair before taking them to gymnastics

And now, the man they love so dearly is going through hell. He is facing an intense battle through a combination of chemo and radiation at the same time. And then will endure a surgery we have been told is more intense than heart surgery. His esophagus will be cut to a smaller size as well as his stomach and an internal feeding tube will be attempted to be re-constructed for him while clearing out about 30 lymph nodes. There will be months of recovery from this.

So, how do we cope? First of all, there will be a lot of days, we probably won’t. We will be hanging by a thread, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I have no idea what we are in for. My Dad died of lung cancer two years ago. We saw how he bravely worked his way through his diagnosis, right up until his death on that freezing cold, crisp February evening. He was only 66 years old.

But, each cancer journey is different.  And, Jeff is only 44 years old with two young kids. Support will be key for us. Our neighbours have stepped up in a big way as well as our amazing family and friends.

I believe I will have to practice what I preach in my professional life as a Coach, now more than ever. I will have to dig deeper into my mindfulness practice that has been ingrained in me through my brain injury journey. We have to stay here, in this moment, to be focused to make the best decisions as well as to not let future fears take hold.

So, what does this mean for my business and my coaching?  I am continuing to work throughout this journey. I am taking on new clients. I realize my mind needs to keep focused on regular life from time to time. I think work is good for me, and also from a financial standpoint, I need to keep working to support our family.

I feel like I am approaching my coaching work with a slightly different attitude. I am pushing my clients harder. I feel like this journey I am going through personally is shining a light about the preciousness of life and making every moment count. We really don’t have time to be complacent.

I challenge you the next time you are on Facebook or Twitter and see a photo posted of someone having the time of their lives on the beach or getting that great promotion, remember there is always a story behind the picture. Every person faces struggle. At some time or another, we all doubt ourselves, hit rock bottom and feel lost. We are all people, going through this life on a journey. There will be ups and there will be downs, and that is the way life seems to be designed to be. That is the beauty of life and the mystery of it, all at the same time. Be grateful for who you are, the work you do, the family and friends that you have and be kind to yourself, not falling for the trap of comparing yourselves to others around you. Because at the end of the day, we are all people, just trying to survive.

To be a part of our journey, follow me on Twitter @potentialultd

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Betty Ortlieb permalink
    December 11, 2017 10:15 pm

    Carrie Ann and Jeff my heart is hurting for you and your family, you have had far too many struggles in your life’s at such a young age! You will be in our prayers and someday you will be able to see how these struggles have made you both very strong people. Keep being positive even though it must be hard, it will help all of you get through this! Take care Betty and Bruce

  2. Alison King, Walton Sunday School permalink
    December 13, 2017 12:50 pm

    Carrie Ann your words are so eloquent and so heartbreaking. We all have so much love for you, Jeff and the kids and I wish there were more we could offer besides our prayers and love. I hope that gives you some measure of strength and hope during this time. We are here for you all, whatever you need.

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