The Collobar:8/10 project that I have been apart of over the last 18 months has more or less come to a halt. It was a great project to be apart of to force me to get out to take photos, especially amongst the business of day to day life, filled with work and chemotherapy. Hopefully, a few of us will get something up and running as a replacement to this. In the mean time, here is a photo taken recently of Hannah during a trip to Wellington. This was taken just outside of Te Papa, on a typical cold, grey windy Wellington day.
Shutter: 1/125, f/5, ISO 200, 17mm.
Shutter 1/50 f/7.1 ISO 100 Focal Length: 250mm
My name is Hannah and I am Jared’s wife. For a while now, he has been encouraging me to write a post for his blog. Another voice perhaps. Another perspective. Those of you who know Jared well, know that he is a talker. Not many people would describe me as such. But I think the time does come when it is important to break one’s silence; at the very least, to respond to the many people who have expressed love and concern for us both through this blog site.
It has been 15 months since Jared was diagnosed with metastatic bowel cancer. Until then, the words cancer, diagnosis, prognosis and chemotherapy scarcely formed part of our vocabulary; we used them to talk about patients and people we knew of, always one step removed. Since cancer burst in the door and took up a seat in our living room, life has never really been the same. Not worse, not desperate, not awful, just different and more challenging in ways we never imagined it would be.
I am a paediatric registrar. For the months leading up to Jared’s diagnosis, I was caring for children, some as young as a few months of age, who were diagnosed with brain tumours, some curable some very terminal. Most of my evening and night shifts involve one or several trips to the oncology ward, where there are children with cancer undergoing some form of treatment, and suffering the consequences, either of the cancer itself or the treatment targeted at its cure or palliation. Each of these children represents a family unit, whose lives will never quite be the same again. I see in the eyes of the parents what I see in the eyes of Jared’s parents; that life is unfair, that children aren’t supposed to get cancer before their parents do.
The truth is, cancer is all around. Everyone knows someone who is fighting it. My husband, a school friend, my high school teacher, the mother of a close friend, my father’s cousin – all within the past year. Jared’s heart-on-sleeve-style willingness to speak and blog and share his story with whoever will listen has allowed us an amazing insight into the lives of countless people who have fought cancer, some of whom have lived to tell the tale, others of whom have not. Our lives are richer for meeting these people, for connecting with their families. Though you would never wish the experience on anyone, the knowledge that we are not alone in this is strangely comforting.
This blog began as a distraction, a very real way to pass the time as chemotherapy threatened to drive Jared “up the wall”. Over time I have observed its function change; it has become a dynamic, relational tool, where Jared interacts with his online community (with you!), family, friends, colleagues, a global village of people who encourage, challenge, reflect and pray. It is a very tangible reminder to us that though we walk a rugged path we did not choose, we are not alone. And for this we are thankful.
Thank you for listening to Jared. Thank you for being there for us.
Today is my wife Hannah’s birthday.
She is the unsung hero of the last two years of my life. We met in Sydney at a conference 3 1/2 years ago, and married 18 months later. Eleven months into our marriage came the event that changed both of our lives forever, mine perhaps more permanently.
I was diagnosed with cancer.
I sometimes wonder what is harder, being married to someone who has cancer, or being the person who has it. Often I think Hannah has the harder job. She gets to see me when I’m utterly miserable from nausea, when I’m unable to string coherent sentences together because of the effects of chemo on my brain. She gets to see me bounce from well to unwell with each round. She sees me lie around the house with no energy or motivation to be a constructive house husband.
Yet she still loves me…
I can only imagine what must go through her mind when she thinks of a future that might not have me in it. My future will always have her in it, but if I leave this earth before her, she is the one that has to live with my death, not me.
And that breaks my heart.
In fact that is the single hardest thing that I have had to come to terms with throughout this whole cancer process. The fact that I may be the cause of such anguish to Hannah, and not be able to be the solution to it. My husband instinct means I want to be there for her, not matter what. But sometimes, life’s cruel blows mean that at some point, she might have to go it alone….
… and that rips me apart….
And it is the hardest thing I have had to give up to God.
Hannah has been all the cliche’s you can think of, the wind beneath my wings, the person who makes me better, the person who completes me… the list goes on. Cliche’s only faintly touch on what words cannot even express what she means to me, and how supportive she has been to me over the last 14 months of life.
So today I want to honour Hannah. I want to acknowledge the fact that cancer is not a diagnosis that only affects the individual with the disease, it affects the family unit as well. People often comment to me about how I have dealt with this adversary, but the truth be told, Hannah’s strength is 80% of the source of my courage. She is the one to be honoured today. She is the one who needs to be remembered in your prayers as much me. I might be the one with cancer, but it is US together that battles it.
Hannah, you are the most awesome wife in the world…. all you other husbands should be jealous :-).