Since authoring a private blog during Deborah’s battle with cancer I’ve considered publishing the content in book form. I’ve recently decided to post all the entries here, in this blog of Hope, until I take the steps to actually publish it.
I’ve been told that there aren’t many similar experiences shared from a male perspective although there are several written by women. Perhaps my experience might relate to others in a unique way. I hope others might benefit along their own journey through similar circumstances and that by what I’ve written they might find hope and strength to endure their own trials. There was no way I could have accurately predicted the outcomes nor the difficulties ahead and I believe it was a gift from God that I could not, and that I did not, have a foreknowledge of what was to come.
Written by Mike Whitmore, Monday, November 1, 2010, Redmond, WA
Deb and I decided not to share any of the news with the children until the following Monday when we would have more information about the severity of Deborah’s cancer and the plan to treat it. Our hearts were so heavy with grief that Thursday evening that being at home with the kids while trying to conceal our internal emotions was one of the hardest burdens to bear.
From the radiologist’s tears we knew the prognosis wasn’t good. A tumor measuring 5 cm across is considered dangerously large. Deb’s measured a whopping 10 cm and was irregularly shaped. Immediate surgery to remove the cancerous tissue was impossible as it would be too invasive.
We waited to share any news with our three children, Alexis (11), James (9) and Gabrielle (6), as we had no idea what the future looked like. Both of us put on our game-faces when in public whether with the kids, visiting friends, or attending church. Anytime we were alone though…anytime we were in our room, showering or dressing or alone for any reason…those were the times when we would just break down in tears, heartbroken and in anguish.
Nighttime and trying to sleep was almost worse than being awake as my mind raced constantly from one terrible thought to another and my prayers were an unending conversation with Heavenly Father. I grieved mostly when thinking about what lay ahead for Deborah as she would be going through chemotherapy and then radiation followed by surgery. How could she bare this burden on top of the Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia she had already been dealing with for 12 years? What would become of our family, especially our children, if she lost the upcoming battle? Every thought you can imagine flooded my head that night and anytime I awoke I was in tears again.
In the moments, days, weeks and months ahead came the most trying times of our lives. Within a few days of being diagnosed Deborah had the thought that we should start a blog. A friend suggested she try using the website www.lotsahelpinghands.com (it was a .org back in 2007). Early on the blog became an easier way to share updates of Deborah’s battle with loved ones, friends, church members, our children’s friend’s parents, and the audience became a worldwide support group. The blog also facilitated the sharing of our family’s service needs from meals to rides to childcare and more.
Then the blog evolved into something much more then just status updates. It became an outlet for me to share my heart in a very unique way, namely, I could write in the very moment I was experiencing the depth of the emotions. Often I would write while sitting near Deborah while she slept at home or in the hospital. The posts weren’t something that was written after the fact as a history. They were written in the present.
Because they were written in the moment the majority of posts were written in one sitting without planning or thinking ahead of what to write and usually without post-editing.
Eventually I changed the style of writing the entries purposefully as I didn’t want the posts to be sad news all the time. The news wasn’t good and wasn’t getting better. I also wanted to share something of Deborah’s playful spirit so the readers could get a better idea of who she was as a person and who we were as a couple. Additionally, I wanted to let readers know how we were handling this trial by relying on our faith and I felt the need to post about the children and how they were doing.
After every post I made to the blog I would receive several of responses from the readers. What an amazing, two-way medium to connect with so many that loved Deborah and our family! Those responses were and are a support to me and I would often read to Deborah both the post I had written and the responses we received back. They cheered us, lifted our spitits and, in many cases, helped us laugh when there really wasn’t much to laugh about.
We never abandoned hope for her complete recovery at any time during Deborah’s battle. Many times we were filled with contentment and a spirit of gratitude that we didn’t fully understand in the midst of everything, but that spirit prevailed and I am so thankful that it did.
In your hands you hold the expressions and feelings of my grieving heart while going through the experience of losing my wife to cancer. I look back on this now in hindsight and, thankfully, I can clearly discern the Lord’s hand guiding our family in preparation for, and while we were in the midst of, the deepest, darkest abyss of emotions that I have ever known.
You may find that the overall spirit of the text is one of enduring hope and trust in God’s plan for our family. In that discovery I wish that you may find hope to endure your trials as well.