Nine years ago. I can't believe it's been 9 years since we made it official, since we swore to stick by each other no matter what. But we knew before then, right? There was always just something there.
It made two known flirts stop looking elsewhere. It allowed us to make it through nearly 6 months apart during the honeymoon stage. That something meant supporting the ultimate mama's boy as he supported his mom through breast cancer. That same support returned when it was my best friend battling the same foe.
Today, nine years after we celebrated with our family and friends, I watched that man with whom I had "something" way back when rock our baby during dinner so I could eat, remember that our oldest hadn't done the last page of homework and run the never-ending energy ball that is our middle around ragged with fits of giggles and squeals.
He's become my person. He probably always was, but he continues to prove it each day with the littlest things. And this BRCA journey is one I don't know how I would handle without him by my side. I spoke at a genetic counseling class this week and I realized even more how lucky I am to have someone who gets it. He's seen what cancer can do to a person physically, wants to spare me that. And knows these are physical changes and that I will still be me. And he wants me here forever.
It seems like a daily occurrence that marriages and relationships fail in the face of cancer, even when it's just the threat of cancer or that of a loved one. So many women are forced to face the drastic changes in their bodies and in their relationships and it seems unnecessarily cruel.
If you're reading this as a friend/parent/sibling, be there for your person, especially if they lost more than their breasts or ovaries. Let them be pissed off. Let them scream and cry. Give them love that someone wasn't strong enough to give. If their partner is still there, be there for him or her as well. Give the partner a night out so they can keep their something in tact.If you're reading this as a partner, please remember we are the same, though we may not always handle it well. Remember that we are coping and please stand by us. Please tell us when you are struggling. We can handle that better than losing you.
If you're reading this as a fellow woman scared of what your person will do when you have your surgery or when you get your treatment, give them a hug. Tell them you're scared. Let them love you. Many of us try to be strong -- for our kids, our siblings, our parents, ourselves -- but sometimes we need to actually ask for help and ask for love.
Hopefully, your person will wrap you in his or her arms and remind you why you are there and how you got there. If not, find your person in your family and your friends. Find that person who will support you through this journey because none of us should have to walk this path alone.
If your partner has not endured what mine has and does not have that innate fear of losing someone to cancer, please consider watching these three movies with them:
I love you, Patrick. Thank you for loving me.