The Actual Dance is a play that presents the events of the year 2000 from the point of view of the spouse of the woman going through breast cancer. From diagnosis to her life as a survivor, Susan Simon, my wife has endured. An unlikely survivor. The Actual Dance is the story of that experience from my perch. The husband. This the 4th year of my October daily blogs, my focus is a bit more on myself
Day 17: Telling the Famly: “We need to make some phone calls now. The Universe may know what has happened, but we have to let everyone else know.” The Actual Dance
In the play, the story is told that Susan did not anyone to know she was having a biopsy. The initial “cancer free” diagnosis seemed to reinforce that decision. And then the news came of her stage three cancer, and we needed to make some phone calls.
In some ways all of us – Susan, me, our son and daughter-in-law and our daughter ALL had breast cancer. Yet it can be hard to acknowledge this fact. I worried that my focus on my feelings and my own experience would be viewed as unfair to Susan. “I (was) not the one with breast cancer, I do know that.” is the line in the play.
I remember having to tell each of our kids, and then Susan’s siblings and then my siblings about her breast cancer and dire diagnosis. Our kids were the most important and most challenging. I did NOT want to do it over the phone. I was able to meet with our daughter who lived nearby. Our son was in Army JAG School in Charlottesville,Virginia and the timing didn’t allow me to wait until he got home. Each of them adjusted their lives too. Our daughter had to adjust her schedule while in dental school to be in town often. Our son was on active duty and was able to have his orders changed from serving a year in Korea to being stationed locally. I also met one-on-one with everyone who worked in my growing company to explain the situation and that I would be taking a lot of time off. My plan was to be with Susan at each step of the journey, and I had to let everyone else know what was going on.
There are many stories of how illness can destroy a family. We grew stronger.
Stat of the Day: According to the National Cancer Institute divorce rate are about the same for people with and without a cancer history.
Task of the Day: Have a family meeting. Don’t wait until someone is sick. Do it first – and make it a happy occasion and yet be willing to have conversations about each other about what might happen if someone got sick. Many families suffer deep fissures when there are differences over handling a serious illness. Meeting and talking with each other first can reduce the likelihood of such problems.
Resource of the Day: Check out EmblemHealth of New York Care for the Family Caregiver web resource. In particular, read the stories of other caregivers. The resources are valuable wherever you may live.
The Actual Dance: Performances Donate