Hello from the other side

I just said goodbye to Eva at the doors to the anaesthetic suite. Next time I see her she’ll be a kilo or so lighter with a different body shape. 

Last night we went out for dinner to a French restaurant. She looked beautiful  (as always – see above). Time alone together during this madness. A last supper for her boobs, so to speak. We laughed a lot, and spoke in our usual intense manner – one of the things we first bonded over aged 17 and 19. We put the world to rights and analysed ourselves and others and our french fries and profiteroles. Afterwards we walked on the beach in the dark.

We’ve talked, joked, commiserated and pontificated a lot about breasts the last months. We’ve philosophised about their cultural status, their biological use, and their symbolism. We’ve probably looked at breasts in a new light; two (usually) lumps of tissue designed for mammalian nurturing, but which vacillate between being objects of sexual desire and repositories of a disease which affects millions of women each year.

We’ve considered why the removal of breasts is such an emotionally fraught and psychologically complex process. We’ve talked about reconstruction and its implications.

And for all this thinking and pontificating and trying to exactly define the perfect biological, cultural, social and sexual nature of boobs, it still hasn’t lessened the complexity and inevitability of today.

Eva has approached it with bravery, pragmatism, optimism and thoughtful deliberation. As with this whole process, she does not struggle to identify all the positives and good things in her life and the excellent care which she has received in our privileged, wealthy healthcare system. The cognitive aspect of this illness and its treatment has been the less challenging realm of experience.

The challenging part – as with most of human existence – has been the emotional experience accompanying it. Her feelings of uncertainty and lack of control and worry and anxiety. The confrontation with mortality and its effect on those closest to her. The impact on her role as a mother. The possible effect on her sense of womanhood. The change in her physical health and fitness and her response to not feeling like the fit, strong person she was. 

And then you add in the children’s experience of her illness, my experience, and the collective experience of our family unit. It would make for one challenging spider diagram.

This blog has been primarily a record of my own emotional and psychological response to this process. At its centre is Eva and her disease process, but I’ve never wanted to be a spokesperson for her. It has held a narrative for her for when the processing of all this complexity has been difficult for her, and a form of order-making for our family. I, perhaps naively as a doctor and human, under estimated the ripple effects of a serious illness on the spouse and immediate family members of a patient. I feel guilty that perhaps my experience has been foremost through this writing; but I make no apologies. It has, somehow, been helpful for us all (even if our children are not aware).

And in a few hours, once she wakes up, the next stage will begin. Perhaps for Eva this will be the most defining moment of her illness. Not defining of her, but her experience of illness. This is irreversible, visible and scarring. It’s also, hopefully, definitive and curative. 

This beautiful lady was laughing until the last minutes. We took photos of her in her fetching hospital one-size-fits-all paper undies which could fit about four of her in. There were tears, and she looked vulnerable and small as she was wheeled away down the hall in the vast hospital bed. As she was pushed by a friendly fellow in scrubs, and we rushed to keep up with the nurse marching ahead of us, the Queensland sun shifted and bounced past the gum trees through the windows on to the tears on my love’s face.


Author: smenelaws

Husband, father, friend, vicarious cancer sufferer, doctor, amateur yogi.

8 thoughts on “Hello from the other side”

  1. I wish you didn’t have to be so strong and brave but the 2 of you share a love that gives you the strength to endure. Eva smile for you says it all. love, Candy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The tears on my love’s face. I am having a big cry, wishing your love, Eva, did not have to go through this cancerous ordeal, wishing you and Mia and Luca had no fear of losing her. What a big day for each of you. Love and sighs and prayers and yawps.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Simon and Eva
    I have read all your posts on your blog and now I’ve been sitting here for a few minutes, trying to come up with some encouraging, helpful words for you guys.
    I have no idea what to write, I don’t find the words to express what I feel right now…
    just a lot of tears and a proudness, how you deal with this all.
    Sending an ocean of love to you

    Liked by 2 people

  4. If only every woman in Eva’s position had such dedicated loving support, Simon. And we, your friends, seek to form another loving circle around your beautiful family as you work through this healing time.


  5. Like Christine, I have been reading all your posts, and feeling for you all. Eva, brave and beautiful woman, mother and wife, your dignity through this ordeal is humbling. Simon, so glad Eva has you there by her side.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t put into words the depth of my love for you all. You are all indeed loved….by me…and so many others. Tears, smiles…my arms around you..all xxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am another one who has been reading all your posts (in the UK) and I have said before, and want you to know that you and Eva and Mia and Luca are the first on my prayer list and will continue to be. My prayer is that you will both stay strong and feel not only the love, care, support and prayers of those who care for you but that through all these people you will feel God’s loving arms around you, holding and supporting you. Maureen xx

    Liked by 1 person

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