My Husband Has Cancer, And There's So Much You Don’t See

by Faith DuBose Smith
Originally Published: 
What You Don’t See: Husband and wife
Courtesy of Faith DuBose Smith

My husband has cancer.

He is exceptionally open about his journey. He has good days and bad days, up days and down days. He talks about his pain, his fears, the struggles and hardships. He talks about his meds, his treatments, the hair loss and the nausea. But here’s what you don’t see.

You don’t see the times he struggles just to stand, or the effort required to walk across the room.

You don’t see how tying his shoes leaves him winded, or how simply taking a shower requires a nap. You don’t see the days when he sleeps for upward of 20 hours, or witness him shuddering from the nightmares that haunt him constantly.

Courtesy of Faith DuBose Smith

Maybe he posts a selfie on a good day or we take a picture together, smiling at our favorite restaurant.

What you don’t see is that it took everything he had to get dressed that day, or that our entire outing consisted solely of a doctor’s appointment and maybe a quick bite after — if he was feeling up to it. Or that just that much wiped him out completely for the rest of the day.

You don’t see the urgency when he needs something, or the difficulty of simply finding something he can tolerate eating. You don’t see the nights that he doesn’t sleep because his body betrays him. And you probably don’t notice the sharp edges of his bones protruding beneath his clothes. You don’t see the pounds melting off him or watch the scale, holding your breath, or see the exchange of glances between us as we wait for the numbers to flash.

Courtesy of Faith DuBose Smith

You aren’t privy to the days that he is confined to our room, trapped in his chair, or the tears that flow, his face buried in his hands, as he worries about me or mourns the future for his children.

You don’t see the nights that I sit on the bathroom floor, sobbing silently until my eyes are swollen shut and mascara streaks my face. You don’t see the days that I drive alone, my music blaring, screaming at the sky — at no one in particular. But then again, neither does he.

Courtesy of Faith DuBose Smith

Here’s what else you don’t see.

You don’t see him with me — at dinners, at functions, at the kids’ events, at church. You don’t see how much it hurts him to walk, to stand, to sit, to lie down. You don’t see the shadow of sorrow in him at having to miss so much, or the flicker of heartbreak in me because I miss him so much.

My husband has cancer.

He is extremely open with his journey, his battles, his pain and anxiety. You see his strength, his courage, his fortitude and determination.

But there is so much that you don’t see.

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