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Life Changes–Counselor Talks About Breast Cancer In His Wife

Editor’s Note: We’re suspending today’s post on Freedom from Conflict by Kelly Antwine for this important, personal message from Kelly.  We will resume posting the series on Monday.

By Kelly Antwine

On October 3, 2012, we celebrated my wife’s 58th birthday and on October 5, 2012, we got confirmation that the images on her most recent mammogram were cancerous tumors. Ironic to say the least, given the fact that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It amazes me how quickly life can change direction on you. Needless to say, we had a million questions and fears and concern all appearing at exactly the same time.

The feelings were so prevalent, confusing, and pervasive that I likened the experience to driving through the Metroplex and never realizing when you left one suburb and entered another. The overriding question just kept coming back to, “OK, What’s next?” I am pretty good in a crisis and I pride myself on being able to keep a fairly level head during times when the initial impulse is to panic. I’m not sure if my wife and I were dealing with shock or denial or both. All I can say is that I felt this sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach like I had been kicked really hard and had the wind knocked out of me.

I was most concerned about how my wife was doing and how she was handling the news. She got the news over the phone while sitting in a Discount Tire showroom waiting for her tire to be replaced. When she called I was driving out of town to our property in East Texas. I immediately asked if she needed me to turn around and come home to be with her. The reason I was headed out of town was we had planned a party for the next day with the anticipation of about 50 guests converging on our “place”. My wife is the most remarkable woman I know. Her answer to my offer to return home was simple, but incredible. She said, “I am not going to let this interfere with my plans and this is not going to stop me.”

My immediate thought was, “Maybe I should follow her lead rather than trying to dictate and control this situation.” Like most men, I’m a fixer. Give me a problem and get out of the way. Well, this problem is just a little above my pay grade. I don’t have the first clue as to where to start or how to fix this. As we began to share our situation with family and friends, we began to be flooded with suggestions and information about this doctor or that plastic surgeon. Most people just simply wanted to express their concern and help in any way possible. However, it is quite apparent that most people don’t know what to say and sometimes people say the dumbest things you can imagine. We simply give each other the look and then laugh together later.

I guess what I am saying is that breast cancer gives a whole new meaning to the concept of powerlessness. We have to rely on friends and acquaintances that have been through what we are currently going through to understand this process. We have to accept the fact that we are not in this alone and we have to learn how to ask for help. We are learning how to set boundaries to take responsibility for my wife’s care. There is some feeling that your life is no longer your life and that others are going to begin to direct your every move. Especially when people in positions of authority are telling what course to take, it is extremely difficult to stand up and say, “No, we are not going to do that right now.”

So, we are currently in information gathering mode. We have met with one doctor and are planning on seeing another. We know where we are currently and we are not terrified. We have a plan to keep moving forward and stay positive. We have no inclination that the outcome of all of this will be anything less than a positive one. We realize that the next 12 to 18 months of our lives will be filled with experiences that neither of us have ever had before. We know there will be good days and some bad days, but we are committed to taking one day at a time while trying not to project what tomorrow will bring.

We have a strong belief in a Power greater than ourselves and we know this Power has a plan for us. We believe this experience will be used to our benefit and the benefit of others. We are not alone in this journey. We have incredible family and friends. We are blessed with the resources to fight this fight, both financially and medically. We are surrounded by good people with good hearts and good positive energy. We realize that we have not been singled out with this burden. In fact, I wonder how many other people got the same news we got on October 5th.

My purpose for writing this piece is not to solicit sympathy for my wife, but rather to illuminate the fact that everyone is subject to the potholes of life. No one is immune from the everyday occurrences that are just part of life. So, like many others, we have been dealt the breast cancer card and now it is time to walk the walk so to speak. Do we really believe that everything happens for a reason and that bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people? Or are these just phrases that sound good in my counseling office when it is someone else’s problem I’m dealing with?

I hate that my wife has breast cancer. I wish we did not have to deal with this at all, but we do. We will get through this! I will advocate for my wife every step of this journey and today is the only day we have to work with. Yesterday is history and tomorrow is not here yet. Learning how to live in today is the biggest hurdle we have to clear. We get to do our part and leave the rest in the hands of our Higher Power. We ask that you send your positive energy to not only us, but to all those who are dealing with life on life’s terms. One day at a time we will prevail and come out on the other side of this stronger, wiser, and closer to each other and our Higher Power than we ever have been.
May each of us concentrate not so much on what is wrong in our lives as on what is right.

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