Falling in love is bliss. When you fall in love you feel invincible and you operate off a high. I’ve been in love and when I was in love I literally felt like nothing bad could happen to me; that the man I was in love with and the love around us acted as an armor to protect us from all things bad. The thing is, we actually didn’t have an armor of love protecting us. What I’ve realized is that love isn’t a protector. Love is a strength and only the strongest of loves survive.
It wasn’t long ago that I realized that love is a strength, but as of recent I’ve been working on a cancer and marriage project and while working on it I’ve learned just how strong love can be. There’s one story in particular that has hit home for me; the story of Kristy Davis, a 34 year old breast cancer survivor. Being around the same age as her when she was diagnosed, I could really relate. Knowing that many of my readers are also around my age, I asked Kristy to share her story with us and I feel honored that she has opened up and shared with us.
Here’s Kristy’s story:
Jason and I met in October of 1998 through a friend of his that was a coworker of mine. The best way to put it is that it was love at first sight. Our relationship moved fast from the first kiss, to saying “I love you,” to even talking marriage. It was agreed that the marriage part would wait until after we finished college. In December 2004, I finally graduated college. Jason had already graduated in May 2002. June 17, 2005 in the hallway of our apartment, Jason asked me to marry him. We tied the knot on November 4, 2006. Our wedding was smaller than average. We had about 100 of our closest friends and family celebrating with us. It was the most perfect day in my life; even the part where Jason smashed the cake in my face. That was expected, after all, that’s how his playful side is. After the wedding, the goal was to buy our first house before we started a family. We purchased our house in 2007, but still put the family on hold to first make the house our home. The start date for starting our family was going to be October 2009.
In August 2009, I was lying in bed arms raised overhead. I had just painted the ceiling in our bedroom the night before and my back was really sore. Jason was lying next to me, and the silly, playful side of him came out. He reached over and grabbed my right breast. His finger instantly hit a lump. “What is that?” he asked. “What?” I said. I thought he was just joking around, but then he felt the left breast and then moved back to the right and showed me what he was feeling. I had already made a doctor appointment for the following week to talk about what I need to do before getting pregnant. I called the next morning and moved my appointment up a week. My doctor sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound. The mammogram looked suspicious and the ultrasound confirmed that there was a growth that resembled cancer. We had a biopsy done and on August 14, 2009, at 30 years old, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer.
Jason was incredible throughout our journey. I remember calling him from the hospital the day of the mammogram/ultrasound and telling him that they said that the lump resembled cancer. He immediately came home. He had no problem taking time off of work to be there for all of my big doctor’s appointments. He also played a role in the decision making. He listened to what the doctor’s said and helped me weigh my options. We did it all together. It was not just my cancer. It was our cancer. Cancer doesn’t affect just one person. No matter if you are the patient, caregiver, or loved one, it is your cancer too. While I had to deal with the fear of treatment and continue to have to deal with the fear of recurrence, my husband had to deal with the fear that one day I may not be around. While my stage was low and there is a good chance that I will live a long, healthy life, that is still a very real fear for him. We made it through cancer by communicating. We talked about everything and made decisions together.
Treatment was the most trying time for us, and really it wasn’t that bad. We just had to make some adjustments. We opted to go with a double mastectomy. The left side was prophylactic because the cancer was only on the right side. We went this route because I was only thirty and didn’t want to give it the option to come back. After surgery, Jason had to adapt to me asking for help, and I had to adapt to not being able to do everything myself. During chemo, he took the important days off of work to be with me, and let family and friends accompany me other days. I had to understand that he couldn’t be there all of the time because of work and he had to understand that some days I just needed it to be him that was with me. He was there for my first chemo treatment, the chemo I had on our three year anniversary, and my last chemo. As with everything, marriage is all about compromise and communication. When fighting a disease like cancer, or going through any other stressful life event, the one thing you need to do is communicate.
Today, Jason and I are still happily married. In November we will celebrate our seven year wedding anniversary. This year is an extra special year for us because in September I gave birth to our first child, Nathaniel (Nate). With all of my doctors on board and Jason on board too, we decided that there is no time like the present to make our dreams come true. We finally have our beautiful little family. We owe it all to our willingness to compromise and communicate, our strong love for each other, and a team of incredible doctors.