"I feel like my husband's love is the secret to my positive attitude during the last two and a half years of continuous treatment.
"My would be husband, Jim, and I met in 2009 just a few weeks after I was diagnosed with Stage I. I had been a single mother for 11 years prior, and I thought God had the WORST sense of humor, sending some strange man to my doorstep, with two kids of his own, just weeks before I was to have the most intimate surgery I can think of, a double mastectomy. I grew to love this man, who saw me at my worst, or so I thought, while dating and decided to love me anyways. It turned out that my worst would be four years later, when I was diagnosed with Stage IV, with mets to my lungs, lymph nodes, diaphragm, and bones. We had been married just two and a half years, and now are age 43 and 40.
"It hasn't been easy, but Jim has assumed the roll of caregiver, and very carefully balances it with husband and lover. Cancer has robbed me of my youthful physical appearance and stamina, and I wonder how he can possibly find me attractive still. Yet, every time we have sexual intercourse, he makes me feel like the most loved woman ever. The frequency of intercourse has had to decrease, but the quality has not. We have had to be creative at times, replacing oral sex with manual stimulation and by wearing condoms to protect him from my bodily fluids while I undergo chemotherapy. It hasn't all been rosy. I miss the intimate conversations we shared in the hot tub, which I had to give up because of hand-foot syndrome. But we traded that for shared massages and lots of moisturizer.
"I have been grateful for my partner every step of the way. I can't imagine having to travel this road alone. I would tell other women to continue to explore the ways you can reciprocate and to be as spontaneous as you feel up to being. My biggest fears are not telling my husband 'thank you' enough, and wearing him out with my neediness. I feel fortunate to have this example in a man, for our three kids, and they are all old enough to understand when I explain what an incredible man their father/step-father is in caring for me.
"Please share your stories. Your marriage going through 'the hard' can be the inspiration for other married couples who may be struggling."
-- akshelley, committed since 2009