That sentence scared me more than anything I ever heard, but I could not let her know how I felt. Then the news got even worse: MY WIFE HAD BREAST CANCER!
Years before, a good friend had breast cancer and I didn’t know what to do or say, so I never answered her calls. I felt so ashamed. When Debbie got the news, Debbie and I were dating and I was living in my own home in Homestead. We made the decision for me to move in with her and rent my house because I knew she would need someone there with her.
I swore I was not going to run this time.
Still, I really did not know what to do, but one thing was certain: I was going to be there for her, I was sure of that. I went to doctors’ appointments and chemo and radiation treatments. I witnessed first-hand what the chemo and radiation did to her body, which was not pretty, but the doctors said she would get better and I had to believe them.
I remember that we were on a business trip in St. Petersburg when her hair started falling out. When we got home, she asked me to cut off her hair. I used an electric clipper and cut off her hair, or what was left of it.
The next morning Debbie told me that she did not sleep because the short hair rubbing against her pillow kept her awake. So the next night before we went to bed, I shaved off her hair.
On Christmas of 2004 I asked Debbie to marry me. It took her over half an hour before she said yes because she was in shock. Her answer was, “Are you %*&!# kidding me?” She had a slight case of the flu and it was not looking like we were going out on the town, but I loved her and wanted to marry her because we had been through so much together and I knew she was my best friend who I wanted to be with forever.
Nine years later, I am delighted to say Debbie is a 10-year survivor who tries to inspire other women (and men) that you can live a happy, joyous, and wonderful life even after a diagnosis of breast cancer. Because we are both survivors!
Today I know it’s not what you do that shows your support – it is the fact that you are there.
With much love, caring and support,
Toby Cline is the process of starting a support group for co-survivors to let them know that they are not alone – there are others in the same situation. The purpose of the group is to offer some comfort in the struggle to be there for your loved one. All primary supporters of breast cancer survivors, male or female, are invited to attend. Toby has worked in the building construction field for over 35 years. He recently switched careers and is now a wine, beer and spirit consultant for a major retailer.
PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION
As a part of our mission to make The Journey a powerful voice for everyone in our community, we invite each of you to consider joining the conversation and sharing your journey with comments and feedback. You don’t have to be a breast cancer survivor, you can be a caregiver, or a friend, or a concerned citizen. What we are looking for is meaningful and helpful conversations that will encourage other people as they travel along their journey. Sharing is caring and very cathartic. I sincerely urge you to take part.