Sunday, May 29, 2011


Cancer makes me angry. 
 No, more than that- it really pisses me off.  I would think the reasons are obvious, but just in case they’re not, look at these pictures of my husband.  My handsome, strong husband…
This photo was taken in January 2008. I was three months pregnant with Marley, and Jim had just found a tumor on his collarbone. 
Christmas 2008- This is what chemo did to him.  He was so horribly sick and swollen that we had to buy larger clothes  for him just so he could be comfortable.   The chemo made him so ill that he had to stop only 2/3 of the way through the rounds his doctor wanted him to do.  We had to choose- die from chemo, or roll the dice that it had done enough good to keep him here. 
2009- He looks better here, right?  Sorta.  Look closer, at his eyes.   He was so weak from treatments that he spent most of his time in bed or lying on the couch.  He was trying his hardest, but very aggressive chemo takes a while to recover from.  And then he had to start radiation, which also made him very sick. 
Still 2009, but six months later.  The rollercoaster ride that we were on was looking better.  Jim was trying a different, experimental chemo that actually gave him nearly a year of good quality of life.  The main side effect was fatigue, which we learned to accommodate.  But he got to spend that time with Marley, keeping her home with him while I worked.

We dared to hope that maybe, just maybe, he would beat this thing.  I remember him telling me, “I think I’m gonna get to take her to her first day of kindergarten”. 
2010- Jim turns 40 in April.  I threw him a surprise birthday party, for the second year in a row.  He didn’t catch on last year as I prepared to have his friends from Indiana and Michigan come to celebrate with us, and he still didn’t catch on this year.  Some of them drove 4 hours to be with him for his birthday, cause we all knew- he might not be here next year.  We were still hopeful, but things were starting to look bad again.  He’d been rejected from the clinical trial of chemo that he was taking because his cancer outsmarted it- and began to grow again.  He was to undergo even more radiation- he was pushing 100 treatments.  His shirt pretty much summed up his attitude toward cancer at this point.  We both knew the odds weren’t looking good, but we went on with life.
I remember we were both feeling so excited and blessed that he got to celebrate Marley’s second birthday.
But he got sicker… and sicker… and sicker.  He knew, I think, that he wasn’t going to make it another year.  He tried his best to do all of the things he could to make memories with Marley.  That fall we went with friends to an apple orchard/petting zoo to pick out pumpkins.  He didn’t have the energy to carve them, so we painted them instead.  We went to the fair- twice- and he made sure Marley got to play games to win prizes and ride the ponies. 
Look closely at his eyes.  You can see the pain and misery he was in.  He was feeling terrible that day, but he was dead set on going.
And then he was hospitalized when the cancer ate through one of his ribs and broke it, causing it to bleed and collapse his lung.  This was where the real downhill slide began, I think.
By Thanksgiving, my husband was looking like this…
   He’d been in the hospital for four  days, but they let him go the day before Thanksgiving.  Which is a good thing, because he was itching to leave so badly that when they didn’t discharge him fast enough, he ripped off his heart monitor and was ready to pull out his IV’s himself.  I literally had to grab his hand and stop him.  He was determined that he was going to leave that hospital and make the trip to Indiana to eat Thanksgiving dinner at his sister’s house.  I’m pretty sure he knew it was going to be his last one, and there was no way he was going to miss his favorite foods! 

That year he was too sick to go with me to pick out a Christmas tree.  He couldn’t muster the energy to help me decorate it either.  And we didn’t make it home for family Christmas celebrations.  But when he opened a game he’d really been wanting for the Wii, I got this corny smile…
We neither one knew that he only had exactly a month left on that Christmas Day.  I’m glad we didn’t know, because it would have ruined a really, really nice day.  We’d been talking about it, and he was hopeful that he’d make it till June to see Marley’s third birthday, but we both knew it wouldn’t be much more than that.  Those are hard talks to have with your spouse. 

2011- The pain is more than he could bear.  He finally gave in and went to the hospital, hoping that they could help him manage his pain where oral medication couldn’t.   Five days later, I came home without him, devastated. 
A few weeks later I had the courage to go through his medicine cabinet.  This is a sampling of the medicine I threw away, and it’s not even all of it. 
This is why cancer makes me angry.  It robbed me of my husband.  It robbed Marley of her Daddy.  It robbed his family of a son, brother,and  uncle.  It robbed many of a good friend.   It robbed Jim of the oportunity to take his daughter to kindergarten.  It robbed us both of another child, and Marley of having a sister or brother to grow up with.  It robbed him and I of the joy of having our grandchildren come to visit.  It took away SO MUCH.  It’s been four months since Jim passed away.  I know you go through cycles when you grieve. 
Well, I’m angry, really angry. 
Because I have good manners, I’m not using the words I’d really like to use when I describe how I feel about cancer and what it took from us.  Truth be told, I’m more than angry.  I’m pissed, and that’s the nice word that comes to mind, if you get my drift.  Writing this post has actually made me sick to my stomach, but it’s part of the process, and it needs to be done so I can continue to heal.  Now, don’t be worried that I’m going to become bitter.  I’m not angry with God, because I know this wasn’t His plan for Jim or me or Marley.  I’m not bitter at all, I’m just good old-fashioned mad, angry, pissed, whatever you want to call it.  I know it’s normal, and I know it’s healthy, as long as I don’t stay this way.  I’m not that kind of person anyway.  But I DO need to sit with these emotions, acknowledge them, and process them. 
I share this with you because I want you to understand.  Maybe when I talk to you I might seem closed off.  Or I might ignore your question of “How are you?” and talk about other things instead.  Maybe when we spend time together, I might seem distant or preoccupied.  Well, I am, I guess.  But I’m trying my best to work through this.  And if I’m keeping my mouth shut (which I admit is not normal for me!) it might be because I’m fighting a battle inside to keep myself together.  I’m trying my very best to live life in the moment and find good and  happy things to celebrate. 
But I’m also pissed.


  1. After reading this post, I will admit that I am crying like a baby. Jim was an awesome husband and father. I love you so much Meg and I will always be there for you and Marley!!!!

  2. I know what you mean. I lost someone to cancer like that too - and I can't bring myself to blog about it.

    It hurts, it sucks, and it steals. I am so thankful for the time that you had... and the memories that you squeezed out of those special days.

  3. You are an amazing person to be able to put into words and share what a lot of people would keep bottled up inside. Love you! Jen

  4. There is nothing to say that you haven't said. Jim's devotion as father and husband was amazing. His determination to hold on to all that was good in each day was remarkable. I pray that Marley will be able to hold onto the good memories. And I wish with all my heart that he could've beat it. Praying for you.


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