Melanoma, A Spouse's Perspective
I asked my wife, Kathy Matheny for her thoughts on being the spouse of a melanoma victor. Here is what she wrote.
My spouse has melanoma
Two heads are better than one. Four ears are better than two. “...A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” My husband was diagnosed and treated for melanoma a few years before I met him. We met in California, and I wondered why he always wore his UCLA sweatshirt, even by the pool or sand volleyball court. He must really love his school! As we talked and got to know each other, and he told me his story, it became apparent that this guy must really like ME to brave the peak sunshine to hang out with me!
I loved his scar
He showed me the scar on his left forearm. It had healed nicely but was still sensitive to the touch as I lay my hand on his arm. I liked being near him. A guy with war wounds has character. He had overcome a lot in his two-plus decades of life. He said the melanoma was gone, but he had to be vigilant for the rest of his life. It could still come back. It meant lifestyle changes. Goodbye sunbathing. Hello SPF and long sleeves. Those seemed trivial compared to a long, healthy life together with a less wrinkly growing old together as a bonus. Our I do’s were exchanged a year later.
Worries and reminders
As a young couple, we found new shows to watch together. We liked Chicago Hope, that is until the storyline involved a doctor who, as it turned out, had metastatic melanoma that had formed a tumor in her brain. The scenario unfolded, to my husband’s abject horror, with the woman collapsing in uncontrollable fits of laughter as the tumor took over. My husband was shaken and couldn’t finish watching the episode. I began to see that some of his scars hadn’t healed.
His skin checks are routine
My hubby has been diligent about his mole checks over the years, and his sunscreen and his long sleeves. He usually goes to these appointments alone. It gets a little intimate in there. I take the kids and my parents to their appointments, but this is his routine. I have noticed that he wouldn’t relax until the appointment was over, and the check was clean. Still, it was like his internal response was, “yeah, this time.” It has been decades now, but his fear still remains.
He finally let me go with him
Last month, my husband asked me to go with him for the first time. He was under a lot of stress, and tired of going it alone. Also, maybe a little envious that everyone else in our family had support but him! I agreed that it was about time! So, I started doing some research myself. When I Googled melanoma and metastasis, they usually came up close together, one led to the other in months maybe, not decades. I couldn’t find anything about it metastasizing years and decades later. I asked the doctor about it during the appointment. He said, no. If his original melanoma was going to metastasize, it would have done it by now. I asked my husband, “Did you hear that?” “What did he say?” I wanted him to reiterate to be sure he really took it to heart. A load was lifted!
When we get bad news, we can almost go deaf to anything said after that! It’s important to have someone with us who can hear those things our ears and brain are too shocked to take in. Now, he still needs to be vigilant and protective. We all do. Melanoma can still come, but it is not the same one from before. That enemy was vanquished. Relish the victory. Soak in the relief! You are not still a victim. And you are not alone. A cord of three strands, remember? I am here for you. And I am "hear" for you.
How often do you speak to your family members about skin cancer?