When the going gets tough, the tough get going. And the others look for the nearest exit.
TRACE: Right after my honeymoon, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer and had surgery. The cancer came back three times, and I had three more surgeries. Then I went through immunotherapy. I haven't had a problem since then, thank God. I still have to go in regularly for painful checkups.
Throughout this 10-year experience, my wife stood by me and supported me in any way she could. I can't imagine doing it alone.
ELISHA: I have been in a relationship for four years. This year, I lost my hearing completely in my left ear and partially in my right ear. I use a cane because I have constant vertigo.
My boyfriend and I broke up this week. He gave me some lame excuse about getting himself together. He's 47 years old. If he's not together now, he never will be.
ANGELA: My husband stuck by me through five years of chemo and radiation for cancer, but he did so begrudgingly. On the way to treatment, he was always on the telephone. Business was his priority. Once, after surgery, he dropped me off two blocks from my home because he was too busy to wait for traffic to speed up.
I went to Seattle for a bone marrow transplant and was there for nearly a year due to complications. He never visited. When I expressed my disappointment in not receiving a birthday card, he said, "What's the point? You're not going to live anyway."
Well, I'm still alive. I returned home in a wheelchair only to discover that he wanted me out of our apartment because he'd found someone else. I didn't have the strength to look for another place, so he left, taking the furniture and demanding payment for my share of the rent while I'd been gone. He married his newfound love shortly thereafter.
The day the movers came, I was curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor waiting for them to leave, wishing to die. After fighting cancer for such a long time, I felt useless.
I've now lived 10 years being happy, grateful and cancer-free. But I still cry (I'm crying now, as I write you), and I still have nightmares of trusting and loving someone who'll just disappear.
HEATHER: We were married for less than two weeks when I developed rheumatic fever and was laid up for almost nine months. My husband was a gem. I asked him whether he ever thought of leaving, and he looked at me like I was nuts. Then, several years later, I had major surgery for a nonmalignant brain tumor. I've also had a broken ankle, major pelvic surgery and many other things. We'll be married 50 years next May. He says, "We got married for better or worse, and although the worse was bad, the better makes it all worth it." I don't know what's ahead for us, but I do know that no matter what it is, we're forever.
Has illness changed your relationship?
Got a problem? Send it, along with your questions and rants to [email protected] And check out my ebook, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front."