My Story

 It was 2001 and I was barely 6 months out of college when I met my wife. We met the old fashioned way, being setup through mutual friends M and K. It seemed an almost instant connection between us and we hit it off well. We had our first kiss that first weekend late at night after talking for hours.. our friends(who are married now) were long passed out by then.

A few days later we were at a diner with our mutual friends and my wife excused herself during conversation. Our friend K went with her. It was then that my friend M told me that my wife was afraid to tell me that she had cancer because she thinks I would not like her. I of course said that this was preposterous. As the months went by we became closer and closer. After three months we knew that it was serious and we wanted to be with each other long term. In early 2002 I moved in with my wife and her mother who owned the home we lived in. I had basically stood up against my mother for my wife, and needed to move from my parent's home. I did not have a career at the time and worked multiple jobs, my wife did as well. 

It was late winter/early spring of 2003 and I had been shopping for a ring, learning about all the aspects of the setting, metals, etc. My wife had been having pains and had one day mentioned to me that the last time she felt this way was when she had cancer. We went to her old oncologist for tests. One day when I was working my afternoon Job my wife and her mother came in and said they go the call that the cancer was back. This had changed things for me in terms of marriage, we had planned for a December 27th 2004 wedding, and if I was going to be able to be with my wife and help her out through this experience, I knew it was better if we were married. 

We went to the doctor's office the next day and the man had a facial expression like he had just witnessed a group of nun's walking across the street get run over by a bus. He stated that this was not supposed to happen to girls this young who went into remission. The long story short with that guy is that he was playing around with us for over 3 months with no treatment or anything. My mother had been a cancer survivor who went to Sloan Kettering in New York City. She was instrumental in getting us seen by a doctor there.

In the mean time while the doctor was screwing us around I asked my wife's mother for her daughter's hand in marriage. Her father was never in the picture and all of my wife's siblings are half siblings from a previous father and much older, so my wife was everything to her mother, they had really had just each other for many many years. My mother-in-law gave her permission and I proposed in front of her family while visiting one of their relatives. I had been hinted at that it would be nice to do it with the whole family there so I did so. I had a lot of crazy plans initially for when I proposed, involving planes and large letters on beaches and such lol, but the cancer, and lack of time, changed those plans.

So we were married in June of 2003. It was a nice ceremony, my wife was "fashionably" late to the altar and I joked with her until her death that she was having second thoughts of marrying me. We had a wonderful reception in her step-sister's backyard with around 60 people. I was never one for weddings and always joked that I did not want to go to my OWN wedding, but the smaller the better, I personally wouldn't of minded getting married in the woods or on the beach just the two of us lol, that was the hopeless romantic in me I guess. We never had a honeymoon because of her starting treatment soon after.

two weeks later we were at Sloan Kettering meeting Dr. M for the first time. He had basically told us from the get go that it would be very touch and the fact that the cancer had already come back was not a good sign, but he was always the optimist, at least in front of everyone. I got the impression of Dr. M that he was a realist but was also open to the possibilities of anything happening, and he never gave up.

Before starting treatment we had gone to a fertility doctor to see if we could have an egg and ***** saved due to the fact that once you go through cancer treatments the chance of birth is very slim. She had already gone through tons of chemo and radiation when she first got the cancer back at age 19, so there was little chance to begin with, but we decided we wanted to try anyways. My parents had offered to pay the 10,000 to help us out but the timing just did not fit and Dr. M wanted to start treatment right away so it never materialized.

Once we became involved with Sloan it became a fairly regular thing (sometimes weekly, sometimes more, rarely monthly) for us to drive from our central New Jersey home up to Sloan Kettering in NYC. I can remember many a night, and day, suck in gridlocked traffic. The decision was made to drive so that my wife would be comfortable and not exposed to germs and the dirty-ness of public transportation when her imune system dropped. I grew to actually enjoy driving in the city, it was all part of me becoming a more assertive person, which I was very much not one previously. Driving in NYC was almost like a video game, insane, surreal, and downright fun. The cost mounted though, not only for gas but all the stopping for food , tolls(omg) and paying for parking.. looking back I still don't know how we survived monetarily, and we really barely did so.

The first goal was rounds of chemo to bring the cancer in check for a stem cell transplant. My wife was told by the doctor that she could not work anymore due to the treatments. I cannot remember all the names of the chemo that my wife took, but we went through a few rounds and it was time for a stem cell transplant. I remember being in the room with my wife strapped to this machine that took all of her blood out of one tube, fed it through the machine with the stem cells, and put it all back into her. It felt almost frankenstienish in nature. My wife was always the optimist, at least outwardly, she never was very willing to be open with her feelings even to me, or that was my perspective anyway.

So long story short the stem-cell transplant failed. It was about this time that her job's insurance dropped her because she had been out of work for a year. So here we have a failed stem cell, no insurance, and the next goal was a bone marrow transplant. We ran up against a wall.. Dr. M was actually still treating my wife and seeing us and letting it be put on the bill, which I will always have a lot of respect for him because of that. The problem was that the bone marrow doctor would not go through with the procedure without insurance due to its insane cost. 

We went to social services to try to get medicaid, but apparently me working my three menial jobs ( substitute teacher, convenience store clerk, movie theater worker, and in the summers landscaping) meant that I made too much money for us to get help. It was also around this time that we started missing mortage and other payments, and letters regarding the threat forclosure started popping up. I had written a letter to my senators and politicians, but it had not gotten us anywhere. What happened was that I got another job instead of the convience store which paid a dollar less, and then my wife was magically able to get medicaid then... was the only time during this whole ordeal that her being married worked against her. Regardless this whole period was around 8 months, 8 months of minimal to no treatment after a failed stem cell transplant and the cancer continueing to have free reign.

So now with the medicaid my wife was able to have her bone marrow transplant. This was middle 2005. The process of finding a bone marrow donor that matched is a long and arduous one. Sloan Kettering was able to find a near perfect match for my wife after near two months of looking. My wife underwent the bone marrow transplant, which was a much more serious and taxing one on my wife then the stem-cell. She was in the hospital for a few weeks when we found out that it had failed. It was around this time that the doctors started giving time frames for my wife to die. I believe when she left the hospital Dr. M estimated one or two months.

Dr. M and I had a good relationship in that he knew that he could be straight with me and that I was open and intelligent enough to understand where he was coming from. I had known from the start that the chances were very slim, Dr. M made sure I knew this.. and I really already had known, after seeing the face of that original doctor before we went to Sloan... I'm pretty sure he knew my wife's death was only a matter of time.. and most likely Dr. M did as well. At this point post bone marrow, Dr. M would even bring me into the room to show me the scans they took, Xrays, MRIs, and PET scans.. of which she had dozens over the course of going to Sloan.

The time around and after the bone marrow transplant required daily attention so we had ended up staying at the Ronald Mcdonald house. Sloan had told a little fib and said that my wife was 21, she was 25 by then. The Ronald Mcdonald house was a great place and we met people from all over the world who brought their children to NYC to get help for a variety of diseases and issues. To this day I don't care to donate to hospitals or pharmaseudicals , but the Ronald Mcdonald house deserves every penny of donations it gets. 

So after the bone marrow was a failure and Dr. M said that there was basically no other chemo or other options that they could try, My wife came home. My wife was never an over weight woman, but she was never very skinny either, by that point she resembled the people you see in the old ww2 video clips of holocaust survivors at the camps. She was extremely weak, skinny, and in a daze. She had upwards of 12 medications she took on a daily basis, and trying to get her to drink 64 ounces of water a day was an impossibility.  When we came home all of her family was there including some from out of state who came to visit her, it was a nice occasion and seeing my wife smile was a good thing. At this point we had a visiting nurse and a hospital bed brought to the home. She stayed in the living room and I slept on the couch. I continued to work but cut back, we were still in forclosure and needed the money, and her mother was there during the day to take care of her.

Ya know they always say that people seem to get better towards the end, and it was true with my wife. She was happy that she was skinny enough to get into tighter clothes, she was in a fashion show at her old job(fashion bug clothing store) and even climbed a good distance up a mountain trail in Vermont, where her family and I love to go for long weekends. She even flew a plane for the first time. She continued to have issues with rashes though, as she had post bone marrow in the hospital, and I think this effected her health and morale. Her mother to this day blames her daughter's quick fall in health to the rashes.

Her health was fading and her breathing was becoming more and more labored. the day that I brought my wife to Sloan for the last time she could not walk to the car.. I carried her emciated body to the car and we drove. She was hospitalized in their emergency room unit(which she had been a few times during the whole process, would be late at night, she would have pains, issues, I'd call, and they would tell me to bring her in).

This was mid October of 2005 and she was in the hospital. After three days she was becoming oxygen deprived and was saying things like " I forgot to meet a friend" or "where is my sandwitch"  and random phrases like that which had no context to the current situation. At one point that night she asked me for water and splashed it over her face. The doctors told me that the cancer was spreading all around her lungs and choking her, and that soon I would need to make the choice of intabation or medicating her and watching her slowly lose breath until she died. Well this night, around 8pm, was when I had to make that choice. In truth it was already made for me, her family would of never let me choose to let her die if there was a slim chance, and when I had asked my wife about it about three months earlier she had said for me to do whatever was possible to save her life. I on the other hand did not want my wife to keep living on like a vegitable with machines keeping her alive.. I was overuled.

Even though the choice was made for me, it was still the hardest decision I ever made in my life, and I can still hear myself giving the go ahead to the doctor while my wife was choking for air... once I said do it they rushed us out of the room and about 12 doctors and nurses came into the room with a machine. I saw in the small window how they drugged her to knock her out and then put the tubes down her throat which were to become her unnatural breathing companions.

She was then moved to the ICU and a few hours later we were able to visit her. She was on a machine knocked out but the nurse told us she could still hear you like if it were a dream. I was horrified at the thought of that, as I am horrified of being someone who is deaf, mute and blind, trapped in my own mind... The nurse asked me about her favorite music and television shows and she made sure to play them. At this point my wife was basically a body being kept alive by machines, the nurses had to take care of her 24/7. I remember sitting there some nights watching the machine show how much of it is my wife breathing, and how much of it is the machine breathing for her.. and this device showed how it slowly went from her breathing some to none, until it was just the machine breathing, this happened over the course of a week or so.

 My wife was intabated for 18 days. The doctors during this time said that there would come a point where even the machines could not keep her alive and she would die. On the 18th day this is what happened, around 12 midnight her heartbeats started to slowly decrease. I was sleeping in an uncomfortable chair and woke up to see this. I went in to get my mother-in-law and brother-in-law and we watched as the heartbeats slowly dropped down to 0. Of course there was no visible sign of anything with my wifes body, since the machines were keeping her alive anyway, by that point she had actually ballooned to looking like someone of 300lbs because water seeped out of her intestines into her skin due to the cancer. She died on November 9th, 2005 at 1am.

The staff tried to revive her for around 15 minutes before looking towards me to see if I wanted to keep going. I had known that they would not be able to revive her and that after 15 minutes it was over, so I thanked them and said its ok to stop. They then lead us out of the room to prepare her. I watched in the window as they disconnected all the wires and tubes from my wife's corpse(and for me thats all it was at that point, once theres no soul, or however you would describe what a person consists of, its just a chunk of meat) they washed her down with damp towels and did a few other things before allowing us back in. We said our goodbyes and left for home, myself, my mother-in-law, and my brother-in-law. We went to my sister-in-laws house and sat there talking for a few hours and looking at pictures. I then went back to our empty house(my mother-in-law wanted to stay with her daughter) and I can remember calling out to my wife to try and get her to give me a sign then I remember crying and screaming that I loved her and I just kept repeating it like some mantra, I think I was out of my mind at that point, but with a strange clarity as well.

So it has been almost 4 years since her death, I knew my wife just short of 4 years before she died, we were married for nearly 2 and a half of those years. I have little to no intention of being remarried or having kids, but I am looking for some companionship, human beings need at least that. I have really only dated one person in that time, although i've tried for a few more. I have a career and I'm doing ok, I have issues like everyone else to work out, including weight, depression, and I think still a lot of mourning, but I know i'll be ok in the end.

well, thats my story.

RandomWanderer RandomWanderer
31-35, M
8 Responses Oct 3, 2009

Im sorry. I hope you are doing better!

I can really feel for you, even though I had my wife for 19 1/2 years before she died. It is never easy.

Thank you Robin!

So Sorry about your situation. Alot of doctors and people running things do nothing. U may feel alone but believe me we are never alone. Some of us have it better and dome worse. As for the crackpot doctor playing games, That's why the world is getting worse. No1 wants to do their job right or cares. We have 1 life and need to appreciate the good in it and make the best of it.

i was in your situation exactly 3 months earlier. we were married only 1 year and 8 months. she was just 24 years. i know how this feelings are... i am living with it... no words to write..

You are a brave man with lot of courage and potential. Don't give up my friend , one day you will see the end of the tunnel and at the end, always there is some is full of challenges, there are good and bad days, I guess you have already seen the bad part, now you need to get on with the life to have your share of good days....I wish you all the best

some are specially choosen for God's finest attention...... <br />
I am grieving the loss of my wife, its one month today....I knew her I knew her for the last 20.5 years .....grew with her....I knew her the way her father and mother would know her...and I was full of love always......never ever felt the need for love..she used to love so much.....Guess I used my quota of love.<br />
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Now question of another marriage or relationship.....I am going to be 33 years old this Nov...I have a 2.5yrs old son and am struggling to do right things for him....

I was very lucky, yeah. Thanks for your good wishes..<br />
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sounds like she was very lucky to have you in her life.and how lucky you were to have loved such a brave young woman!my heart goes out to you and your mother in law all my best,wideopenspaces77