Kristi's Letter

Dear Kristi,

Smack dab in the prime of your life, your husband is diagnosed with head and neck cancer.

Suddenly your world is filled with labels. You are a “caregiver.” The process is a “cancer journey.” Your husband is a “cancer survivor.” All but the first does not sit well with you. You’re not a caregiver—you’re simply doing what anyone else in your shoes would do. The hardest part will be sitting on the sidelines watching your husband get poked, prodded, and gradually slip into a shell of survival mode. It feels less like a journey, and more like a hellacious tour of duty.

The road you travel together won’t be easy, and at times will be overwhelming. Do things that will make you uncomfortable, like ASKING for help. Lots of people will offer help, but few will have the “just do it” attitude.

Look for moments of laughter, like comparing your doctor visits to one of your favorite TV shows.

Write little notes of encouragement to help your husband get across the finish line. A bell that no one ever notices will take on immense importance to you. Ringing it will sound like you’ve both reached the points you’ve prayed for. A moment comprised of seconds that you've waited months to ring. And then you’ll learn that as emotionally trying as this battle can be, healing is no walk in the park either.

But, you’ll both get through it. Sure, you’ll have a few scars, but you’ll both come through victorious and with a new sense of purpose: to become a patient ambassador.

With Love,

Me

Kristi is a caregiver

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