Our Loss through Cancer

I've decided to slowly build on to this subject.  It is a delicate subject.

I lost my husband to a rare form of Leukemia, Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.  All looked deceivingly well, until complications arose and systemic mastocytosis reared its ugly head.  The stem cell transplant did not take.  When trying to regain remission to try again, the news came that he became refractory.  In fact so refractory, the platelets he needed to stop him from bleeding and bruising no longer had any effect.  Special platelets picked via DNA proteins were used in hopes to help this issue.  This only lasted a week at a time and the platelets were gone.  With only two donors for platelets in the whole world, what chance did he have.  This is almost as hard as finding a stem cell transplant donor.  It was over.  Nothing more could be done.  He couldn't even make his own blood and receiving others blood did not help.

This being said, during my stay in the cancer treatment center, I was not alone.  We formed a family as we each went through some type of cancer with our spouses.  We'd cry, hold each other, cheer on a positive test, run favors for each other, talk about our children, our grandchildren, met individuals from overseas not knowing much English and taking them by the hand, and we'd meet in the visitors lounge.  A private area for only those who had family in the oncology ward.  It became our social area.  Sometimes we'd actually cook for each other.  This was our life-line.  I found that losing a spouse to cancer is prominent for many of us.  So many, and then even so, we still be so incredibly thrilled one survived and was released to go home!!

Each new spouse, we would group to ensure he/she knew we were there for them.  They are not alone.  We too were experiencing this disease no matter what type of cancer.  We made sure that each of us understood what was going on in treatments, gave advice on how to ask doctors questions, care, living away from home and in a strange place without family, and most of all, we held each other up.

Think of this page as a work in progress.  The loss of a spouse is very emotional and intense.  The loss of a spouse due to losing a fight with cancer, it is painful, emotional, riddled with questions, guilt and the pain of watching a loved one suffer you can do nothing for.  Its as if the pain of death is prolonged while we have to witness it taking hold of our loved one.  No other way can describe this except, prolonged trauma.
  • This is not meant to be a depressing page.  
  • It is not meant to undermine any widow or widower's trama of losing a spouse for any reason.
I hope instead that we all, under any circumstances, who have found ourselves without our loved ones can use this page for now, future, and others we may know.
  • It is meant to provide valuable tips on dealing with present cancer caretakers, or those who have lost a beloved.
  • Sharing lessons we've learned in hopes to provide support to others.
  • How to take care of yourself as a spouse, caregiver, nurse, advocate, counselor, and all other positions we find ourselves in when caring for our loved one.
  • Bring insight to those who want to understand for the sake of someone they know.
  • Most of all, unfortunately, how to prepare in the horrible event should treatment fail.
This is a lengthy subject as all cancers are different.  The outcomes are not always the same.  Some of us have been through this, others are reading this because they fear the worse, and still others because they may know someone in this situation.  Bottom line, we are widow's or widowers who may have some insight valuable for coping and we definitely empathize.