What breast cancer taught me about my marriage

Olivia Silver is a writer and a PR professional. She also has breast cancer. Last May, she was diagnosed with the disease, and soon after, she started writing about it. In this column, Olivia examines the everyday aspects of life while being treated for breast cancer as a 30-something. 

When my husband and I got married it never crossed our minds that we would be dealing with breast cancer at some point in our marriage. I say “we” because this disease may affect my body, but it is also impacts both of our lives. It’s adjusted dreams we’ve had for trips and daily activities we planned on our calendars. It has set back expectations about having a child some day. It’s also forced us to look at beauty differently. Beauty now equals health versus some physical goal we have for our own bodies.

The role of the caregiver can be challenging because that person is not sick he (or she) doesn’t really understand what it is like to battle something like this. Still, that caregiver must deal with a loved one who is going through all these emotions and physical problems and try to support that person when the definition of that support changes on a regular basis.

Often when dating someone or looking for that potential life partner you rarely think to ask them if they would make a good caretaker. No one is thinking about something so unpleasant as this topic. Yet, it is really in these moments—like the one I’m in now—when you realize how important it is to have a partner who is there with you in sickness and in health. It’s also important to be with someone who has a kind heart and a strong sense of humor. Those two traits really help you get through the tough times.

I don’t have a perfect marriage. We fight about stupid things like our printer breaking. We work different job schedules, which can make staying connected challenging. But what makes our marriage work is that we are there for each other. My husband has been such a strong caretaker. He takes notes during every doctor appointment when the doctor is explaining the next step in my illness. He’s there to remind me that what the doctor is telling me is good news rather than what I think I’m hearing. He reminds me to not push myself when I really need to sit on the couch and relax.

And when I’m feeling emotionally at my worst, he makes me feel happy and beautiful. I am grateful for that—and for all the support he’s given me during this fight against breast cancer.

Read more about Olivia’s journey here.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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