My Boyfriend and I Had Been Dating For 6 Months When He Was Diagnosed With Cancer
6 months in, 1 month after first saying I love you to each other, the phone call came.
I think when you go through something bad in life, something that tears you open, you remember details in slow motion. At least that’s how I remember the details of that time. Slow fricken motion.
I want to start off by saying that Mike, who is still my loving, strong, and selfless boyfriend is now 3 years in remission. Hmmmm. Go ahead and smile!
But I also want to say that this post is a story from my viewpoint. Im sure Mike’s story would sound different then mine as we had different perspectives during this hard time in his life. We fell harder in love then I’m sure most would after 6 months of dating someone and I learned that he is the type of man I want to spend the rest of my life smiling at.
But like I said, this is a story from my perspective.
Slow motion memory #1: I’m having a good time with my friends at a party on campus (oh yes, I was still in college when Mike was diagnosed, he had graduated 4 months before).
Girl I barely knew: “Shouldn’t you like be at home with your boyfriend right now.”
Me: Knife through my heart.
Am I a bad girlfriend? She’s right. Mike is sick and here I am having a good night with my friends.
I hate this memory. For days to come I spent my hours beating myself up on the inside.
Why though? It took me a few weeks to realize this but once I did, I didn’t look back.
While this part of my life, was sad and scary and everything in between. I still was alive. I was alive and so was Mike! And I couldn’t stop living just because life was off right now.
This girl did not know anything else besides the fact that Mike had cancer. She did not know everything I had already sacrificed (which everything I did was 100% worth it and for the man I love so much). She did not know the little sleep I got or the food going uneaten because I always felt sick to my stomach, or the hours I spent just sitting with Mike and holding hands.
She was not there with me, sleeping on the floor next to Mike’s bed because I couldn’t sleep next to him. Or even touch him. Because that’s what happens when you go through a strong round of radiation. She didn’t know how badly I wanted to hold his hand so instead, telling myself if I lay as close as I am allowed to it’ll almost feel like I am. Right?
She didn’t know those things and that’s okay. I’m not mad at her. She didn’t know.
So now I’m here to tell this to everyone. You don’t always know how someone is handling a situation. So let them cope and grieve and miss someone the way they need to.
Everyone will handle a rough patch in life in a unique way to them. Respect this. Respect their actions, and their words, because this is their path.
Yes, there are plenty of resources out there on how to respond to these situations. When a loved one is sick. When a loved one is taken from the world too soon. And some of those things can be helpful. I know this because some helped me when I was so sad and scared during this time.
But I also felt in my own way. And that was to keep living my life. To go out with my girlfriends, go to class, cheer at the basketball game, and then drive the 3 hours to go and be with Mike. This made me fall even more in love with him, because he respected this. Like the selfless human being he is.
I lived my life. But that does not mean I wasn’t scared or sad. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t care. It just made me human.
My boyfriend and I had been dating for 6 months when he was diagnosed with cancer and I stood by his side. I did this while still enjoying sunsets and good books and dancing to my favorite songs.
Because for me, that was how I personally needed to handle what life had thrown at me.
Mike’s story is his story to share - Which one day he will share with others in a way that uplifts him and reminds him how strong he is. He will share with his future kids when he’s telling them to dream big and love hard. And damn that is a beautiful story of growth and strength.
This is what I learned during Mike’s harder days. To live a life by my terms (While still loving Mike more then my heart could almost handle).
I hope if you go through something in life that scares you and makes you sad, that you experience it in your own way. You don’t let other’s words or thoughts affect how you cope.
And if you know someone going through something hard in life, you respect them. You have to respect how they will handle it in terms that work with their heart.
Then go and love the shit out of the people in your life, because it is short. But despite the scary, it’s a beautiful thing.
So here are some of my favorite photos of my boy and I enjoying life in all of the ways we want to! Some from before, during his treatments, and the oh so wonderful remission — One thing is constant in them all, those smiles. Nothing beats it:)
Good Vibes and be gentle with the ones around you - you never truly know what they are going through,