I have always felt that we were meant to be together, soulmates. I met my husband in New York in the Spring of 2001. We were both traveling alone but on the same couch tour. It was a three week coast to coast tour that took us from New York to Los Angeles with various magical places in between. It was a great opportunity to get to know each other, become friends and fall in love. When the holiday came to an end, his travels continued to Hawaii while I had to return to England. We maintained contact back in England although he lived on the west coast and I lived on the east coast. He would phone me and we would talk for hours, I loved listening to his Irish voice. It felt right when he proposed and initially planned to get married three years later. We saw each other fortnightly over weekends and then forgot why we wanted to wait when it felt so right to be together and so wrong to be apart. So, we got married just before Christmas the same year that we met. We then went to South Africa and had another wedding with my family and friends.
Life was bliss and I thought we would be happy forever and grow old together. We visit my family at least once a year and they have also been to visit us in England.
It was when my parents visited us and we travelled to Ireland (on my 30th birthday) that he developed chest pains so we spent most of the night in the A&E in Dublin. I thought that he had just pulled a muscle from carrying our heavy suitcases but, looking back at our photos, he had lost a lot of weight and his face had changed colour.
He maintained a brave face throughout the week long tour but then went to the doctors on our return to England. I will never forget that day. He phoned me to tell me that they wanted to admit him to hospital and asked me to go to the hospital. When I got there, the hospital had rushed a specialist over to see him. The doctor told us that they thought he would look a lot worse than he did and to prepare ourselves for the worst. They had done an x-ray of his chest and found a big lump growing from his one lung, around the heart and to the other lung. It did not look good. I sobbed as I drove home alone but was grateful that my parents were with me through those early days. It took several tests and biopsies but they were unable to diagnose the problem. Eventually, they decided to perform open-heart surgery, which was a scary prospect. I watched my young, healthy husband deteriorate before my eyes.
After our holiday in America, Hubby always told me that he promised himself in Hawaii that he would one day return with me. We always dreamed about this holiday but, always put it off for whatever reason. There are so many other things that we have put off, like having children. Suddenly I could not remember why we had put off so many things in life, thinking we would do that 'one day'.
After his surgery, the results came back. Hodgkin's Disease. Cancer. Before this, I have never had a close encounter with this disease and always thought cancer meant you were going to die. I could not bare the thought. When we were advised that Hubby would have chemotherapy, I had no idea that it would go on for 6 months of treatments. The chemo started within 2 weeks of his surgery, which slowed his recovery. I had to care for him and do a very stressful job but gradually, we got used to the routine of fortnightly chemo.
Hubby was such an inspiration to me. Never complaining, always smiling, determined to beat this disease. After 6 months of treatment, we were told that the lumps were gone and his chest was clear. That was such a relief! However, we were also told that he would have to be closely monitored for the first two years as this was the most likely time for the cancer to return. His recovery has been slow and there has been some health scares but, he is getting back to his old self and is starting to look like the man I remember.
We got the news yesterday that he has now been cancer-free for two years. It feels like a weight is off my shoulders. We can look forward now and plan for the future. This experience has made us stronger, appreciating life and every day that we have and no longer willing to put things off. Hubby has written a children's novel, which we are hoping to get published and I am pursuing my dreams to become a textile designer but for now we are looking forward to taking that holiday to Hawaii in 4 weeks time.
** This is a very long and personal post but I wanted to remind myself of where we come from so that I never forget to live for today and to make the most of it.