Cancer Catches the Church Lady

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On a cold October night my doorbell rang. Not a usual occurrence. It was Joe, an aged, very hard headed, multi gun owning neighbor. I had known him for the 30 years I had lived in my house but this was the first time he had ever stopped by after 9:00pm.

Married for More Then 50 Years
Married for More Then 50 Years

“I need to talk to you.” He entered the house. I motioned for him to sit but he just paced back and forth.

“It’s Janet. She has cancer and I don’t want to live if she is gone.” Janet was 77 and Joe was 80. They had been married for over 50 years and they still loved each other. John would go after anyone who made noise or cursed within Janet’s hearing distance. I mean he had actually brought out a pistol and threatened a young man who was drunk at a party a few houses from their house.

“Just what type of cancer does Janet have and what did the doctor say about it?” I became worried that this could have a bad ending. I didn’t believe it would happen this week or this month but Joe’s thinking was not good.

“She has female cancer and she needs surgery and then chemo therapy. I have to take her to her doctor next week and then they will schedule surgery.” He kept pacing and I offered him a drink. Not alcohol because Joe does not drink. And Janet had been the administrative assistant at the nearby Catholic Church for almost 30 years.

“What can I do to help?” I asked with what I must admit was sorrow and fear about their situation and mine. This was uncharted territory and while I appreciated that Joe was trusting me with this and felt a strong and trusting bond with me, I did not understand my own feelings. What if she passed away?

I decided to just let him talk and listen to what he was going through. I did not offer any advice because frankly I didn’t have any. I did believe that going to the doctor and doing whatever they asked you to do was a good thing. I needed to go online and see what I could learn about it.

I made up my mind that the next day I would go and visit with Janet and see how she felt. I wanted to help but felt lost. I would just have to ‘show up’ and listen. Thankfully there is nothing to prepare you for this so I guess I would just do the best I could.

I am going to post more as this continues down its path so stay tuned. Don’t forget to check the links below for more helpful information.

Adjusting to a Spouse with Cancer

Keeping it Together When Your Spouse has Cancer

What to Say to a Friend or Coworker