Sitting Courtside

“You have a high level of Contentment – usually good natured and happy, grateful, optimistic and satisfied despite circumstances.”

That’s what the personality assessment said as we reviewed the results in class this week. After class, we were asked to dissect the results with fellow students.

Jen, how do you have a high level of Contentment when your husband has stage IV cancer?

There’s no doubt that what Jeff and I are going through sucks. If I allow myself to dwell on the cancer circus, I would walk through life an emotional mess. I’m watching the person I love, who I want to grow old with, battle an incurable disease.

Every time I see him wince from bone pain, hear him throw up or limp over to the sofa just to be in the same room with our family, I fight the instinct to fix it – to do something. I look at our wedding pictures or last year’s Halloween pics when he was 45 pounds heavier, active (and with hair) and I get tearful. And, I think about what life will be like when he’s gone.

Every day, Jeff and I have choices to make. Choices whether to do or not do treatment; choices around our attitudes, how we show up for each other, how to nourish ourselves and choices to make for the future. As a cancer caregiver, I have choices to make, many of which, when I dig deep – I don’t want to make. This is “heavy stuff”. Yet, I make them anyway, from a place of love and gratitude.

I’m sitting courtside and I am…for the most part, content.

When caring for someone with metastatic cancer, these feelings are normal. They are reasonable. It’s OK to grieve all of the changes in life that are happening as a result of cancer. It doesn’t mean I’m giving up, that I’ve lost hope or that I love him any less. 

There are 2 ways Jeff and I can look at the situation:

1) He is dying of cancer.

2) He is living with cancer.

We’re choosing option #2 because #1 is too damn heavy and dark. It doesn’t mean we avoid getting sad or angry. We crawl under the blankets, feel the pain and we admit when we’re afraid. Yet, we’re also grateful we’ve been given the gift of time – time to sit on the deck, play with our dogs, visit close-to-home places on the bucket list, and time to just be with each other. He is living with cancer.

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