Introducing my darling husband who most of you feel like you already know - Serge. Serge is guest blogger tonight! Woot! Woot! Get your tissues ready because I needed them. The reason why Serge is writing this is to help prepare him a little for his Smiling for Smiddy Challenge, riding from Brisbane to Townsville, and to also help you understand why he wants to raise money for cancer research. Details for donating will be at the bottom of this post.
This is my first time doing something like this. Sharing my story isn’t my strong point – that is Emma’s forte. I feature regularly on Emma’s blog and know that she writes about our relationship, often the saddest moments, but we both thought that it is time to share my perspective. It is not often that you hear the thoughts of the partner of a cancer patient - their role as carer, chief cheerleader, comedium, and ultimate cuddle buddy. Warning alert...a bloke may talk about his feelings.
A little background to our very speedy relationship…
I met Emma playing board games at my boss’s place (Shane) with his wife’s (Ashlee) sister, Emma. She was visiting from overseas and made a cake for the occasion – Pavlova, of course. She had actually ruined her first attempt and was so embarrassed that she made a second. It was good fun. I’m a sucker for redheads and I remember thinking ‘I could get used to Pavlova Fridays’… Let me tell you now, I definitely don’t get as many Pavlovas as I used to.
She was due to return to her job in Timor Leste where she was volunteering for a year. What an adventurous little thing! She made an impression that night. A week later I decided to hack into Shane’s facebook to get Emma’s details. I sent her an email and we started to chat. Email messages turned to text messages, which turned to skype calls every night. We could talk for hours about nothing. We would talk like we were already a couple. She said she’d make another cake on her next visit to Australia. I knew I’d see her again.
There was no doubt that when Emma would return to Brisbane permanently that we would be together. It was very much ‘love at first sight’ – the ultimate cliché.
Shortly after Emma’s return to Brisbane, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Melanoma, and then just a few short months later, Stage 4 – a terminal prognosis. There was a whole lot that happened in this time, lots of doctor’s appointments for Emma, lots of dates for us, and a lot of falling in love.
We had experienced more than most would in a lifetime.
I remember Emma telling me that I could do a runner and I didn’t have to sign up to a relationship with someone that was going to die. I said no and, instead, I asked her to marry me. The truth is there was nowhere I’d rather be than in her company spending time together.
When Emma and I are together the emotion cannot be expressed on paper. It’s a feeling that makes you strive to be the best person you can. A rolemodel. It adds warmth and colour to your day. I looked, and continue to look, forward to living, loving, laughing and creating a future together. It is hard to imagine life without her. In such a short period of time, we fell in love. We have been by each other’s side for the majority of the last three years barely spending a day apart. We are two peas in a pod.
We were faced with people questioning our engagement. People thought I was just doing it to grant a dying girl her wish. This was extremely difficult to hear, but we knew from the beginning that we were meant to be together. Yes, the cancer probably sped things along, but I knew getting married was part of our future.
In January 2014, we found out that Emma was not responding to the first treatment she was given. She was given just three months to live and we moved our wedding forward to make sure that she would be well enough and alive. That was really hard because it was the first time we had really shared the extent of Emma’s health with our friends and family.
How do I cope with it all? I am probably your typical man because I don’t really talk about my emotions and choose to cope by ignoring the situation. I don’t think anything can prepare me for a future without Emma. I do cope reasonably well now, both of us do. But, I realise that when the time comes it is going to hit me hard. People often tell me that I am strong and brave, but I am the lucky one – I have found the person that I love most and we share and make so many happy memories together. These have been the most amazing years of my life. Emma and I have experienced so much together and we truly make each other a better person.
Laughter has been the medicine for dealing with our situation. I often walk around the house dancing just to make Emma laugh (between you and me, I am often in the nude dancing, it increases Emma’s laughter dramatically!). Sure I’ve had my moment crying and tell Emma that I want to be married to her forever. But, humor goes a long way in our house. We make lots of inappropriate jokes about death that many would find a bit much. But, hey, at least we are talking about it – we both know what each other wants, I’d rather that than get to the end and have to rush all the important questions.
I also try to keep it together for Emma’s sake. I need to be there for her and need her not to worry about me. It sometimes backfires, because she starts to worry when I don’t show much emotion. I choose to ignore the consequences and live in a little bubble. That can be quite easy when the person you love brings out the best in you. Most days it works a charm. Although the bubble does burst during doctor and hospital visits when you’re reminded of the reality of the situation.
The challenges of treatment include watching your partner go through stress, fatigue, nausea and pain. It is sometimes hard on our relationship because we both can get frustrated when we are not able to do things – go out with friends, travel or even just leaving the couch. Some of the most difficult, yet hilarious, moments are when Emma is in pain of a night and can’t fall to sleep. She carries on like such a pork chop and yells, screams and/or moans and then you hear her yell from the bedroom to me ‘hug me!’ – ‘Yes, ma’am!’. But in all seriousness, being there for your partner is one of the sweetests joys. It has definitely brought us closer.
Emma always says on her blog or when she goes to speaking engagements that her cancer story is as much a love story as it is a heartbreaking one. I agree. There is no regret in my life with Emma, nor will there ever be. We are so lucky to have found each other. I hope for many years with Emma, but I will take any time.
Thank you to everyone that has donated already. Here is the link to my Smiling for Smiddy fundraising page and you can read below why I am participating.
In 2014 I married my wife, Emma. Our relationship has been nothing short of a whirlwind. We married just over 6 months after we started dating. In those six months, we experienced more than most couples do in a lifetime. A week after we started dating Emma was diagnosed with Stage 3 Melanoma at the age of 22 and a few months later Stage 4, a terminal prognosis, and she was given just 3 months. While we were falling deeper in love and planning our wedding, we were also planning Emma’s final months.
Emma was lucky enough to gain access to a clinical trial that gave her almost two years of stability. In the last six months, we have been faced with treatment not working and the reminder that melanoma will take Emma from me.
We both hope for more time. More time to make memories.
I am riding the Brisbane to Townsville challenge because Emma convinced me to. Being the controlling person that she is, she wants to make sure that I have people around me that understand what I am going through and can be my support now and in the future. Part of this is having a network like Smiddy family surrounding me.
Of course, raising money for research is the icing on the cake. Research means everything to us. If it weren’t for a clinical trial, I would have lost Emma two years ago. Help me make sure that there are more options for her, as well as others with cancer.
Thank you to Ol School Garage for sponsoring my bike for the event!