The Definition of Strength

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Kelly McManis, Louisiana

I met my bf about eight years ago, and we are 14 years apart in age (he is currently 51, and I am 37). Near the beginning, he was a great support for me, as I was dealing with my mother struggling with breast cancer, and eventually losing her at the early age of 59, which devastated me, and has truly not gotten easier as the years go by.

Michael had not shared with me the fact that for several years he had noticed bleeding in excess, during trips to the bathroom, and when it finally became a concern of his, I immediately made him go see a doctor. Upon performing a colonoscopy, it took the doctor only moments to discover that he was already Stage 3 for colorectal cancer. Honestly, if he had not been such a light-hearted, optimistic person, I am not sure I would have been able to handle going through this with him, after the emotional destruction incurred from my mother’s death, but we started his treatment and hoped for the best.

Radiation therapy was the first path, which led to a surgery for an ostomy that was intended to be reversed after time. Unfortunately, though, that surgery took a total of nine hours, filling me with horror that something had gone wrong ... and it had, leaving him with an ileostomy, as well, since the radiation has supposedly fried his bladder, and it was removed.

The ostomy was never able to be reversed, and he became a habitual patient of chemotherapy, simply increasing the intensity, until he was on the strongest level possible. No progress was being made, and he developed a tumor that grew on his pelvic bone, too large to be removed or placed such with so many nerves that the doctors declared it impossible.

He was then told that he had approximately two years to live — but that was six years ago!!

I have been the only one there for him, doing everything I can to ease his discomfort and try to make things easier on him. The tumor has deteriorated his sacrum, and he should not be able to walk, but he is still moving around with a walker. Sadly for him, though, we live on the 2nd floor of a duplex, and he is too weak to go up and down the stairs, stuck in the same place for approximately six months now.

The only time he left was when paramedics took him to get stitches after a fall, revealing to us from scans, that the cancer has now entered his brain. Now I am unable to leave him for very long, and I do not work, creating a great deal of stress with finances, since I pay for both of us.

This has been extremely difficult for me, as I do not socialize, I really do not have any friends, we have been unable to have sex for six years, and I just hate seeing him in pain and not being able to truly help.

Many have told me I am missing out on my life, and yes, it is all about him, but I would never be able to enjoy my life knowing I had abandoned him in his time of need. The doctors think six months is all he has, but the two years was diagnosed six years ago. ... He appreciates my care and tells me he loves me constantly. I just hope I may have someone to care for me when I need, because I truly have no one due to caregiving. It scares me ...