Cancer Lesson #11: “That sounds like something you would do.”

Cancer Lesson #11: “That sounds like something you would do.”

Such was my husband’s reply when I asked him what he really thought about my diagnosis.

“What? Are you blaming me for getting cancer?” Surely he was joking.

He wasn’t. But neither had he meant his words the way they sounded.

What he’d been trying to say – in a somewhat roundabout manner – was he thought I could handle it.  Because I had been the one to give birth, the one who’d had Lasik surgery to correct her vision, the one who had gone through more dental surgeries than I – or our insurance companies – care to remember.

“You’ve been through all that,” he concluded. “I couldn’t have done it. You can handle this.”

Well, I thought, that’s okay then.

Still, even after the explanation, his reaction took me by surprise.

I never realized he thought I was that strong.

Two years later, I’ve come to the conclusion – along with several friends who are also cancer survivors – that husbands seem to take the news hardest.

In my case, The Engineer had finally encountered something he couldn’t fix. I think now that he was a more shaken than he let on. Just how shaken I wouldn’t discover until much later.

My daughter was more obviously upset. Furthermore, she was upset about being upset because she thought she needed to be strong for me.

And I was worried about her worrying about me because I knew I would be fine.

The point is, most people won’t know how to respond to your news. Since you have the dubious advantage of being the patient, you may have to give them some clues about what will and will not help you.