From the time that a lump was found in my wife's breast I had a suspicion that it might not be good news. I took a fairly clinical approach to it though and assumed that if the diagnosis for cancer was positive we would just deal with it.
Nevertheless it was still a shock when I went with Jane to see her local GP to hear her diagnosis. The cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. The seriousness of Jane's situation was brought home to me there and then. I was shattered; I was expecting an early stage breast cancer, as we were convinced that it had been found quite quickly. All the specialists that we have seen since, however, have been very positive about Jane's outcome, which has taken a little of the pressure off.
Probably the biggest frustration for me, and for Jane, is that I have not 'been there' for Jane all the time. Most of Jane's support needs are emotional, not physical, and I am very good at the physical but apparently I am hopeless at the emotional. Being a typical man I am a 'fixer' and the thing that I find most frustrating as Jane progresses through her treatment is that there is little or nothing that I can do that actually helps.
In the main we are totally reliant on the care and treatment provided by the specialists and we don't seem to have any say in the treatment offered or decisions to make about the treatment, which leaves both of us feeling very helpless.
Jane has also been very critical of me for not doing more research about her cancer and complementary treatment protocols. The truth is that I have done a lot of research, but so much of what I have read is very negative and alarming and leaves me feeling very distressed about the possible outcome. I cannot imagine life without Jane and so, in a funny way, I try to ignore the negative information that I read and try to get through each day as normally as I can.
I am learning, however, that this is not what Jane wants and that she wants a lot more of my emotional support - something that I find hard to do but something that I am slowly starting to learn. We still have a very long journey ahead of us with the reality being that the journey will never be over and that cancer will always be part of our lives.
Our challenge is learning how to live with that fact and not allowing it to totally consume us so that, at some point, we can re-commence as near-normal a life as possible.
One thing that I do know is that we could not have got through it so far without the support of organisations such as BCNA, the support of the friends and professionals around us and we will always be grateful to them for that.