Love Her So Much

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My wife is entering her third round of breast cancer. She had it in the
90s and survived after a double mastectomy and two rounds of
chemo. Against my advice she took hormones and got BC a second
time. Complications and chemo again but she has been cancer free for
five years. Now it appears that a spate of strange symptoms are
evidence of a third round. It has already begun to metastasize to her
lungs and other organs. I know I am going to lose her this time. I
know enough about what we’re facing that keeping on a brave face
won’t be enough. How can I get us through this?

Love Her So Much

Dear Love Her So Much:

You have two missions: One is to be there for your wife. The other is
to stay strong enough to be able to do sop. You’ve been through the
drill twice before, so you know the importance of having a support
team and not trying to be a Lone Ranger style hero. Appoint the
closest most reliable family friend or relative who’s willing to be the
care team manager. S/he should be willing to coordinate all your
friends and relatives who’re willing to schlep her to and from chemo,
bring food for the family, and generally do things like supermarket
runs, mow the lawn, and clean house. Also simply to sit with your wife
and read to her, or be in the house while she rests, in case she wakes
and needs anything. There are various internet sites that’ll allow the
manager to organize scheduling.


You can use the same site to post updates on your wife’s medical
progress, to list requests, and harvest well wishes. That’ll save you (or
worse, your wife) from a zillion one-on- one conversations that’ll
probably not do a lot for your spirits. Eat right, exerciser, and try for a
decent night’s sleep. Create a safe harbor for your self. Imagine a
quiet zone, anything a friend’s guest room to the temple sanctuary:
somewhere where you can go to sit, cry, be by yourself with pain,
grief, fear, or any other emotion you don’t want to bring home to your
wife. Around her you’ll need to be soothing, supportive, loving, and as
optimistic as circumstances will allow. There’s also recent research
that shows that when people write about their lives it helps them
process fear of death. When the time comes for hospice, be prepared
to take a leave of absence from work and be with her until the end.