The guilty secrets of a cancer partners life:

*language alert in this one*

Sometimes you just want to tell them to fuck off and die, only you know you can’t. You only partially mean it, the fuck off part at least is true.

You get so bored with explaining the same thing to a hundred different people, but at the same time hesitate, tripping over your lies when strangers ask how you are. In you head saying the words “really fuckin shit actually, my partner has terminal cancer. Instead mumbling “thanks” so as not to commit to any particular statement.

The world seems muted, colours, experiences, excitement, conversations, and the ability to feel joy. They are all muted, rarely fully present in anything or with anyone.

I am continually touched and could often cry at the kindness of strangers. Not just those in the know. The kind waitress in the café notices I’ve finished my apple Macha (the non coffee drinkers saviour to a rough start in the morning) and brings over a bottle of water un prompted. Leaving me to write.

I’m angry with the people who are so scared to say the wrong thing, they have said nothing at all. I’m angry on behalf of my partner because it feels like rejection, it feels like they no longer care. I understand on a human level it’s not intentional, it’s about wanting to not get in the way. But he is dying; slowly, a cunt of a cancer has stolen his future. There is no wrong thing that hasn’t already been said by me.

The kids are a constant source of concern, just like every parent. Only we no longer know if the melt down watching the sad part of a film is due to being over-tired or relating on a deeper level to what’s happening to our family. Is the obnoxious behaviour teenage hormone? Or an inability to verbalise feelings? Are we supporting them enough? Or are we too caught up in our own heads to notice when they struggle?

Strangers birthday parties, celebrated in bars and restaurants feel incredibly painful. They remind us of all the birthdays that wont be shared, the kids 21st,  those of future grandchildren. There is no longer any concern about looking older or turning 50 in years to come.

The future means next week, life is lived chemo cycle to chemo cycle. Not because one day you hope to be given an “all clear” but because if it isn’t working everything takes another turn for the worse and you wonder how many more you can take and carry on breathing.

Somedays you just want it to be over, preferably never to have happened in the first place. But the not knowing, what, when, how is exhausting. The only certainty is that it will happen. Sooner, much sooner than we had planned. Will I have the energy to do everything when it does?

I’m not worried about “The Dying” the act of dying per say, I’ve seen enough death to know that it can be kind and managed with grace. I’m worried about the progression of the illness. I’m worried about caring for my partner when he is too weak to care for himself. I worry about the memories our children will have, will they remember the loving, gentle Dad that loves snorkelling with his kids, builds Lego, plays in the pool for hours whilst I escape, glad of time alone?

As I sat writing this outside a café, twice, random friends have stopped for a hug, new to the news. Both time, tears flung themselves past my self-conscious smile and tough Northern girl exterior, exposing the rawness still present eight weeks into this new life. I wonder if it ever becomes okay?

Cancer is a cunt, living with cancer is shit, having young kids whose Dad has cancer is really really hard for everyone. There is no respite. There are good days and bad. Positive times and times feeling over-whelmed. Times for laughing, times for crying and times for hiding under the covers. I hope we can find more of the fun times, more of the laughter and more of the love in what’s happening.

I  hope that he gets his beer buds back at some point soon,  sharing a cold one in the sunshine would be pretty special about now too.


Be Kind and don’t forget yourself.

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7 comments Add yours
  1. It is a total and utter fucking cunt my love, there’s no two ways around it. As one northern girl to another you are allowed to cry, great big gut wrenching sobs in public, because despite the shell we were raised to show to the world, we are human too.

  2. Hi Liz, lou spoke to me today and told me what is going on. I have met you once, along time ago, you wouldn’t remember me but it wasn’t hard not to not forget you when you gave us an in service at freo ED on the 2 pot piss test! I’ve been lucky enough to work with Colin at Freo,FSH & Albany ED and he has been one of my favourite consultants to work with. I was deeply shocked and saddened to hear the news and feel life can be so cruel. He’s an amazing doctor, a lovely, kind easy going down to earth consultant to work with. Im sorry that you all have to go through this and I can’t begin to imagine how this is affecting all of you. Please send him my regards, he may not remember me but he has left a very positive influence on me. Kind regards Rebecca Walley

    1. Thanks Rebecca, such kind words.

      I will pass them on to Colin, I may have to do it in bits so his head doesn’t get too big. It will cheer him up no end.

      It is indeed shite and crap and happening to such a nice man. He will be pleased to know that he has a positive influence on you. He learnt early on to be nice to the nurses!
      Take care and thanks Lizz

  3. I love your writing, I have said many times to my family, cancer is a cunt so it is good to know I am not alone. I`m going to share your blog on WordPress and Facebook and Twitter because I know what cancer is like and I can empathise and send you my love and no fucking useless platitudes. If there is anything you would like me to do, please ask. xxx

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