I’ve been to several weddings lately. One of them was literally the bi-product of Pelotonia (http://pelotonia.org/the-blog/2018/05/01/a-pelotonia-love-story/) and is a truly amazing story of love forged from the time spent riding a bike to fight cancer.
Each time the officiant arrived at the standard vow of accepting one’s partner “In Sickness and in Health,” I found myself overcome with emotions. I think most couples acknowledge that eventually they will have to take on the sickness aspect of this vow. But as part of the broader collection of promises made at your wedding, I think we mainly file it under, “Date To Be Determined in the Future.” Newlyweds tend to be young and healthy when they get together and the thought of perilous illness is not nearly as imminent as forsaking all others or whether they will have enough money for a house or who left the toilet seat up.
But then I look at my own life and say, “Wow man, I’ve lived that one for real.”
If you reference back to my very first post here, you will note it was my wife that noticed my rogue mole turned melanoma. It was her by my side or guarding my back as we fought the brute that is Cancer.
I’ve also come to realize through snippets of conversation I’ve overheard — or that she has shared with me personally — how one-sided that year and half was in terms of stress and strain. It was plain that I had one job — beat cancer. But a household with two young children is a lot of work, especially when (at the time) the chief breadwinner is curled in bed fighting with the after effects of treatment that morning. I don’t understand people who cut and run while their significant other has prolonged illness. I can permit the idea that if it radically changed the person’s personality so that you were not living with the same person you fell in love with, you might need to reconsider that promise. But that is not necessarily “in sickness.” I know I’ve changed some. I tend to be more serious and want control over the uncontrollable (see also my daughter’s room or my garage). But on the whole, we still share the same sort of dreams and goals.
Patients can’t always see what the caregiver is doing behind the scenes. They must possess an amazing duality as they offer positive support and belief in the patient’s survival while simultaneously trying to plan for a negative and life-alternating outcome. It pains me to no end that I was the cause of this strain to her life. But my poet’s soul is reminded of the words of Goethe,
“The sum which two married people owe to one another defies calculation. It is an infinite debt, which can only be discharged through all eternity.”
So whatever it takes, I will continue to try to even up my side of the ledger.
If you follow me here or Strava, Twitter, Instagram, etc. you know I am always posting and applauding people who have rallied to help me raise money for cancer research through Pelotonia. Normally this is where I would make a plea with the reader to support me in my efforts to end cancer. But since May is our anniversary month, I would prefer you honor the caregivers in your life. Their sense of duty and boundless love should take center stage, so this latest ride is for all of you (most of all, Joanna!).
Some team members will contribute periodically throughout the season as we ramp up to Pelotonia weekend in August.