To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Yahoo News asked women who have had breast cancer or are going through treatment to write about the people in their lives who stood by them and cared for them. Here's one story.
FIRST PERSON | I never thought the words "in sickness and in health" would challenge us like they have over this past year.
My husband, Howard, is my best friend and soul mate. We live in Centerton, Ark. In September 2011, I felt a lump in my left breast. I was 49 at the time and Howard was 48. A surgical biopsy two months later confirmed my worst fears: I have an aggressive form of breast cancer. Over the course of this year, my husband has been a rock for me. I could not have survived this ordeal without him.
Turns out, I married Superman.
A night to remember
One night in particular stands out for me. The plan was that after my mastectomy, Howard would go home to be with the kids on the second night I was in the hospital. The Cancer Treatment Center of America in Tulsa, Okla., is two hours away from my home. Usually, I heal quickly so I did not think Howard going home would be a problem. Turns out that I was not feeling great, and the emotional toll of losing a breast was more than I expected. If I hadn't been so doped up on morphine, I probably would have cried for the first two days without stopping.
I asked Howard to stay for the second night, and he did. Good thing I had him there. It was a very difficult night for me. Between the monitor alarms constantly going off, ineffective pain management, and marginally competent hospital staff, that second night could not have been more miserable. Howard stayed with me. There was a pull-out chair for him to sleep in or he had the option of going back to our room at the cancer center. Instead, he moved a recliner next to the bed and held my hand all night. Words cannot describe how much this meant to me. He touched my very soul by being there.
Breast cancer's challenges
Treatment for breast cancer is awful. Chemo put me into early menopause. I started chemo in this year in March and continued every three weeks until May. I'll continue Herceptin, a biological treatment, until March. Chemo is done, and there is little hope I will return to a premenopausal state. Now, as a couple, we have to deal with the challenges of cancer and menopause. This includes the usual hot flashes, night sweats and sexual issues. Howard is understanding and patient. I could not ask for a better husband.
When I had my mastectomy and my mom flew in to be with me, Howard was there, being strong for me and my entire family. Not once has he shown how my diagnosis scares him. He is truly a man of steel.