I like beer. This is not the point of my post, but I thought you might like to know. I also like the band RUSH, but that also is not the point. The point is this: I’m a breast cancer Co‑Survivor. I’m also a very lucky man.
OK, my wife Jenn (smokin’ hot, BTW) was diagnosed with stage 3A breast cancer (ER+/PR+/Her2-) in 2013. Up until then, everything was awesome: a great marriage of over 10 years, two amazing girls, a house, a dog, you get the idea. Thankfully, we still have all of that, minus one of Jenn’s breasts and some lymph nodes.
A Co-Survivor’s Life After Diagnosis
Jenn’s diagnosis consumed every waking minute. As the Co-Survivor (a title I never knew existed), it took all of my attention to keep things moving. The marriage, kids, house, dog … and now awwwwhhh crap, The Cancer.
The last thing on my mind was intimacy. Following Jenn’s diagnosis and the ensuing surgeries and treatments, it was the absence of intimacy that stood out.
Here was the woman I loved and desired, and honestly, she was a wreck. Hell, I was a wreck. Having my wife burying her head in my chest and sobbing herself to sleep, and sharing her emotions, wasn’t much for foreplay.
But, over time, intimacy did, can I say it? Arise. It was tentative at first, but it was there. Simply put, you love and desire your partner and intimacy is part of that. What kind of intimacy, you ask? I think you know. But let’s not go full perv. My kids might read this and think I’m even weirder.
There is a type of intimacy more important than the biblical thing. A knowing look. A hand held. A smile. A hug. Time together. I know, blah, blah, blah. You already know all of this. But, before you click away, let me ask you:
What’s your thing?
I’ll tell you what our thing is (beyond the smiles and hugs and stuff). Cooking.
Throughout Jenn’s diagnosis, surgeries, treatments and all the other fun cancer stuff, we found intimacy in cooking. We would plan a meal. I mean seriously plan a meal, like all week long. We’d talk about it, source the ingredients, go shopping. We’d plan the food, drink, and even the movie we’d watch (we’re not much for candles and fine china; more like TV trays and couches.) Then, we’d cook together. The moments spent talking, collaborating, laughing, and sometimes just chewing were important. Those moments were intimate. We had always done this, even before cancer. But, in our life after cancer, this thing was much more special, more important, more intimate.
So, I ask again, what’s your thing?
In getting to that answer, ask yourself: Why are you together? What draws you to one another? How do you show your love? What do you like to do together?
Whatever it is, just do your thing. If you make something up or try to go extravagant, it’s not going to feel real. Oh, and don’t hide from the intimacy. Cancer changes a lot of things, but not everything. Certain things are fundamental to us as human beings. What existed before cancer is still there.
This cancer stuff will never be over and no one knows what’s coming next. So, we’ll just keep doing our thing. Same as before.
Here’s some pictures of Jenn and me (and those amazing kids I mentioned). Take a quick look at her hotness.
This blog was originally published on 2/22/2016 and has been updated. Connect with other co-survivors at the 2019 YSC Summit in Austin, TX. Learn how you can cope and become resilient while caring for your loved one after their breast cancer diagnosis through our Co-Survivor specific sessions. Register today: summit.youngsurvival.org.