The New Wifestyle Profiles | Melanie
it is with much admiration that i present to you today’s wifestyle profile of an incredibly strong woman, melanie. she is a cancer survivor, her husband is in the Navy and they have an exciting (though somewhat scary) new update for their family! thanks for sharing so candidly about your story and truly what ‘in sickness and health means.’ let’s show melanie some love and support!
Happy Hump Day to all you The New Wifestyle readers! In mid-October, Chelsea approached me about writing a post for her series. It was ironic because just a few days prior, I stumbled upon Chelsea’s blog and fell in love. She started a series featuring other wives wifestyles and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading them. Head over here to check them out!
So who am I? My name is Melanie (many call me Melzie) and I blog over at Ribbons and Rotor Blades. I write about all sorts of things from my life as a Navy wife, a cancer survivor, a dog mama, the random and often times TMI things going on inside my brain, as well as our brand new and exciting adventure. My blog is my little space of the internet to write about all things in the life of Melzie.
When Chelsea asked me to write a post about my life and my wifestyle, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about. I wanted to touch on a subject that is very personal to me, but something many others might not have dealt with yet in their marriage.
In Sickness and In Health
We’ve all heard the traditional vows. You know, “in good times and in bad, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” While most couples truly value the vows they say on their wedding day, I think most just say them, giving little thought to them in that moment. That was not the case for us. There was one that really stood to out to us; one that made me choke on my words and bring tears to my eyes: “In sickness and in health.” Most young couples and newlyweds don’t really worry about this one too much. Not at first anyway. Most young couples assume this vow is for their elder years when our bodies age and diseases, illness, and ailments start becoming more prevalent. I’ll admit, I think that way about my husband. He’s young, strong, and healthy. I don’t foresee “in sickness” becoming a reality for us in regards to him for many, many years.
For me? That’s an entirely different case. We’ve been living the “in sickness” long before we were married. I’m a cancer survivor with far too many complications. In 2006, during my third year of college, I was diagnosed with a very rare and very aggressive form of cancer called Leiomyosarcoma. After an intense surgery, recovering, radiation, and chemotherapy regiment, I received my first clear scan and was in remission in November 2006.
It was a rough year and I was alone. Nick was not a part of it. Long story short (you can read more about our love story and how we came to be on my blog), Nick contacted me after two years of losing touch, just after I received that first clear scan one month after finishing treatments. He had heard I had cancer and after helping his mother through it, knew he could be a support for me. And he was right. He became my biggest support, even from states away as he had now enlisted in the United States Navy. We talked for hours every day. He became my rock and my best friend. That is, until he came home on leave and we realized there was much more there than a friendship.
Our relationship progressed quickly and within 6 months we knew we were in love and wanted to get married. After a year of thinking I’d be alone because of my bald head, scars all over my body and the insane amount of baggage I was carrying, Nick had fallen in love with me because of it all. As we began to talk about the future, I had many talks with Nick about the complications that came with marrying someone like me. He assured me that he could handle everything and wanted to be by my side. I was scared, as I knew health issues can cause strain and put tension on a marriage, and often times, cause them to fail. But I trusted Nick that he wanted this, even knowing (but not fully experiencing) my baggage.
Unfortunately, Nick didn’t get a trial run at the “in sickness” part before our wedding day. Nick spent the last four years of our dating days in Annapolis, Maryland at the United States Naval Academy while I was living in St. Louis. In 2011, he graduated, came home to Missouri, two weeks later we got married, packed up a U-Haul, and I moved across the country with him. For the first time in five years, Nick was my caretaker, not my mother. All of the complications he heard about through the phone or email, was now about to become a reality for him. He now carried the burden of watching me suffer through my complications and he now had the fear of losing me.
Complications came and Nick didn’t bat an eye. He rubs my back as I hunch over the toilet trying to dislodge my food. He’s conscious of dinner parties with friends not knowing I have issues eating. He’s been by my side through two major cancer scares, holding my hand and smiling at me as I exit the room after a CT scan or blood draw and holding me the days following, waiting for the results. I know he’s nervous and scared but he never shows it. He holds me when I cry from my acid reflux becoming unbearable some days. He gets my medicine for me when I’m too tired. He takes off work and sits, waiting, during my annual surgery and biopsies.
I know this isn’t easy for him. He’s constantly asking what he can do to help, even though he knows there is nothing. I can see the pain in his eyes having to watch me suffer, daily, from complications. With my type of cancer, I live in fear every day of relapse. Leiomyosarcoma is a one shot deal. If it comes back, I cannot be treated again. It terrifies me. It makes me paranoid. It gives me anxiety every single day. But Nick never falters. He assures me everything will be okay. He’s always (sometimes annoyingly) positive.
For the past eight years, there has been one complication sitting in the back of our minds. One that can sometimes be a deal breaker for many couples. Children. When I was diagnosed, I was told that there was a 50% I was infertile. We wouldn’t know until we began trying and even then, we could experience complications. Nick wanted children of his own very badly, but even knowing it might not happen with me, he chose to marry me anyway. He preferred a life with me, whatever that meant down the road.
This was one complication we overcame. After three and a half years of marriage, we are happy to say we are expecting a baby in late May! Our prayers were answered with this tiny miracle and we could not be more overjoyed.
Unfortunately, things in my life do not come without complications. Early on in my pregnancy, we learned I have a 2cm mass to the left of my uterus. At this time, we aren’t sure what it is because testing isn’t safe this early. It could be my ovary, a swollen lymph node, or a tumor. Imagine our shock to find out we’re pregnant, but have this dark cloud following us around. Here I am, finally happy that my health is going my way and I’ve given my husband a child. But not without complications. While I’m scared, I feel most awful for Nick. What should be a joyous occasion now has the “in sickness” attached to it.
And you’d never know. You would never know the burden he carries by being married to someone, a cancer survivor battling so many complications and now pregnant with a mysterious mass growing inside of her. Every day he wakes up with a smile and an overly optimistic attitude. He’s confident it’s an ovary and everything is perfectly normal and we’re all healthy. He’s there by my side at every OB appointment and every high-risk OB specialist appointment (not an easy task in the Navy). I wouldn’t fault him for being frustrated with me, with my body, but he’s not. He just loves me harder and more deeply.
I admire his strength, his faith and his optimism. It’s not always easy for me. In fact, it’s far from it. But he carries me on my weak days, he’s my smile when I’ve forgotten how, and he’s my light when my world has gone dark. Every single day. While I’m the one saying life is unfair and apologizing that he has to deal with far too much baggage, he’s the one telling me he wouldn’t want life any other way.
These complications are now a part of our every day life. We experience far more sickness than most couples do. But I’d venture to say we experience more love, more trust, more communication, and more honesty than most couples our age. We’ve been through things most couples will never experience. Statistically, all of these health issues should cause marital problems, but it’s done just the opposite. It’s made us the strong couple we are today.
It lets me know that no matter what other complications we’re faced with, I know that Nicholas will always be standing right beside me, holding my hand, ready to catch me when I fall, and putting me back on my feet when I’m ready. Just as I would do the same for him if life ever took that turn. We’re in this together, forever. In sickness and in health.
1) Have you and your spouse had to deal with sickness in your marriage?
2) Was there one particular vow that stood out to you more than rest?