Sunday, May 10, 2009

Couples and Cancer

I miss you friend.

OK the Edwards' mess is back in the public eye again. Why Elizabeth Edwards would bring all her wounds to the scrutiny again is up for question. Perhaps it is her way to punish her husband. Perhaps it is just about book sales, do they really need more money? Put that aside though and let us think about the initial wrong.

No excuses for him but I really wonder. I recently lost a friend to breast cancer. She had been fighting the illness for years. By the way, why do we talk about people fighting cancer? This friend made it once to the 5-year mark and thought she was done with the fight. I should tell you she was a fighter about so many things. If she felt she was right and you were wrong about her priorities, she let you know in no uncertain terms.

Cancer didn't know about the magic of 5-years so it showed up again and again and it spread. There were positive times for her and there were depressions. She took responsibility for her family. She was married and had children and grandchildren, though she was just in her late 40's to early 50's. She felt guilt when she grew tired or depressed. She felt guilty about the costs involved. She told me of several times in her last two years that she was in the hospital enduring some wearing therapy when the family would scold her for even thinking about quiting. She was not one to think of quiting often anyway but once in a great while she had the audacity to say how tired she was. She kept working outside the home until her brain function was involved.

I knew her husband of many years. He was not my kind of guy but he was fairly normal as far as I knew. But as that disease was coming on strong again he got rather mean to her. They had always argued but now sometimes he seemed especially cruel. For instance, she got a little dog, after their old dog died, and he gave it away one day while she was gone. No discussions, no reasons, he just gave it away. Outside of him and the adult children she had only a brother. Her husband acted as though he was jealous when her brother visited or called. He, the husband, often complained about her temper and he complained about her slowness in cooking meals or doing laundry.

Then there were all of his ailments. He would have some sickness or the other and she felt so sorry for him. They went to a therapist but he quit because the therapist told him once or twice that he was wrong. I realize that he was worried about money and her temperamental outbursts but the way he acted really didn't seem helpful.

They both would blame the other for temper or unfairness. They both had stories to tell about the other one being childish. She was the one though that would generally mention the stress he felt. I know, we all know, many couples probably do not handle the stresses in the way my friend and her husband did nor as the Edwards' do but I'm sure there is more to learn about the subject.

So today when the “media” was squaring off at both of the Edwards', I decided to see what information I could find about couples dealing with cancer. I include links for you below. It turns out that these couples do follow certain patterns. So who knows about the Edwards' problems but is it really our business. I guess you can justify some of the hoopla because Ms. Edwards is bringing it back up again, but who made these news show, pundits, psychiatrists? If they really want to make all of this meaningful, let them do a series or at least 3 minutes on the stress of couples with cancer.

Here are some links on the subject just in case the “media” decides to just keep doing what they do best, harp on the surface of the story.


  1. Yep, the Edwards doings, past or present, are of no interest to me. Now the Couples and Cancer...well that is insightful and beneficial. Good post! Is that your painting? It is beautiful! we carry on.....

  2. thanks Pat,
    Yes, part of one of "my" paintings.
    I did one for Sister this spring and this is a cropped piece of it.
    I cannot but comment as an outsider looking in when it came to couples with cancer.