How are YOU doing, asks everyone with a look of sadness. I say I’m doing well, and fine, and good, and I mean it. Many people have told me that the partner of the cancer patient actually deals with so much more and feels the burden of cancer even more than the patient. This might be the case for others, but I think I was built to be the partner of a cancer patient and I couldn’t feel luckier to be on this journey with Shayna.
I was in London on a work trip when I found out that Shayna had cancer. It was a Monday night and I was set to be there for the next few days. As soon as she called me, I think the first thing I said was “Okay, what are the next steps and what do we need to do to fight this thing?” I asked her if she wanted me to cut my work trip short and come home, but she said that it wasn’t necessary. She was okay. It was hard for me to be in London for a couple days, as all I wanted to do was come home to give her support, love, and reassurances, but I know that Shayna is honest with me and if she wanted me to come home and needed me, I would be there.
The day after I got back from London, Shayna and I scheduled a weekday lunch date so that she could share all of the information she gathered when I was away. She came with a meeting agenda, outlining everything she wanted to make sure I understood. While she was sharing everything that she learned from her doctors I never once, not even for a single second, thought about the potential negative outcomes. That’s just not how my mind words. Until something bad happens, nothing bad has happened.
You might say that I’m crazy and cancer is bad, but I don’t consider this to be a bad thing yet, but rather a roadblock with obstacles that has a clear path to a solution. As long as we keep pushing and doing everything we can to get Shayna all of the help she needs to beat this thing, I know that we’ll come out the other side. I’m not a naive optimist- will it be shitty sometimes and will Shayna not feel well for many days here and there, sure. But that shouldn’t dictate how we think about cancer and the path to getting past this thing.
When I tell you that I haven’t cried once since finding out the news, you might say I’m insensitive or lacking emotion. I don’t think that is the case. I think one of the things that Shayna always says is my best quality is my practicality and my ability to reason and find a solution through any situation without getting my emotions mixed in. Most people might say, cancer isn’t just a simple problem with a simple solution. I’d ask why not? With the treatments out there today and the new technologies in medicine, why can’t we look at this as the same thing or similar to getting knee surgery? Why do we have to put cancer on such a negative pedestal? What would crying do to help the situation? I’d rather give Shayna my unconditional love and positivity, and I have no reason to not feel positive.
After we found out, we had many women reach out to us with the same type of breast cancer to talk to us about their journey. They have all gone through this and are all cancer free or on their way. I truly, without a doubt, know that Shayna will be another one of these women who will be cancer free eventually. Whether it’s 6 months, a year, 2 years, it doesn’t matter. Our attitude has never been woe is me, but rather we’re gonna be okay. Attitude is everything.
Last night, as I was laying next to Shayna watching TV, I looked over and there she was with her bald head. I said to her “it’s funny, I don’t even look at you differently or think about how you have no hair”. And I swear, it’s the 100% truth. Shayna is the same person on the inside as she was the day I met her when she was 19, so what she looks like on the outside is not going to change my feelings in any way about her. Actually, I think she looks gorgeous with her bald head (think Demi Moore in GI Jane) and her face and smile can still light up a room. One thing she said to me recently was that she loved that I haven’t treated her differently and it’s the truth.
I’m a big believer that if you think positively about something, you get positive results. If you think negatively, you’re more likely to get negative results. To get more specific, I can treat her negatively like a cancer patient, or treat her positively like my wife of 5+ years/partner of 10+ years. My feelings are that if you give off a certain vibe in life you get it back. If she feels like she’s being handled with kid gloves and like a patient and not a person, that might affect her mindset and how she thinks about all of this. I want to make sure that she knows that she can still be normal through all of this and having that positive mindset can be incredibly powerful.
I’ve felt this way my whole life, but this idea was solidified to me in an interesting way a few years back. At my first ever swim class with Aidan, the first time I took him into the pool, the instructor made sure to tell us, if you’re nervous, he’ll be nervous too. If you’re calm, relaxed and smiling he will be too. Needless to say, I took this to heart and while other kids might have been crying, Aidan LOVED the pool. Same goes for Cooper now. I think this translates perfectly to life and why Shayna appreciates me not changing how I am towards her. Yes, my priorities in life have shifted so that I can be there for her at all times, but my attitude and how we are in our relationship has not changed in the slightest bit.
Bottom line is that I have the utmost confidence that we’ll get through this and I feel so lucky that I can be next to her through this journey. Hopefully, alongside the medical treatment, our positive attitudes will help to fight this thing.
Attitude is everything. #shaystrong