In 2006, my husband, then a Navy pilot, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After tumor removal and radiation, followed with eighteen months of chemotherapy, he was cancer free ... but the spectre remained; all the experts told us the grade three cancer would surely return. Our two children were two years old and just born.
He retired from the Navy and got a desk job back near our family in Pennsylvania. All was well until the five year anniversary of his cancer surgery (he was given three to five years life expectancy due to the diagnosis: anaplastic astrocytoma). It was then that numbness and tingling surfaced ... and what we anticipated to be the return of a tumor was in fact a bleed on the brain stem.
Unlike the first, very successful surgery and recovery, the brain stem surgery was potentially lethal in itself and was only attempted after it was clear death was imminent. Then followed stroke-like rehab, to relearn walking, talking, eating.
During rehab, Ian felt the Lord's call to pursue the ministry. He entered seminary and completed the program. He was ordained and then hired by our church as a pastor. And then .... it was the spectre's turn.
It was a full year from recurrence diagnosis until his passing July 7, 2016, three days before our 17th anniversary. That year was fraught with multiple surgeries, infections and infirmity. We watched him weaken and fade and finally pass. The kids are twelve and ten.
It was during that year that we got new neighbors. Beth and her family arrived to meet a family in crisis - no baskets of brownies arrived to greet them. When Beth learned of our situation, she gave me this Giving Keys bracelet, given to her upon the sudden death of her father, not long ago. It was a sweet, sweet blessing from a virtual stranger, who had a touch of knowing what I was going through.
I'm now passing it along to my friend and recent cancer widow, herself the mother of four small children. Her family, unfortunately, only had a month with her husband from diagnosis to death.