At the end of September 2009, Jeff (my fiancé at the time) was diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer. It was like the rug had been pulled out from underneath us – here we were planning our future together and now our future was uncertain. But that's not the cruel twist of fate....

He was to start chemo in October but before he did that, I wanted to get married. He was reluctant, worried about marrying me under these circumstances but I won out in the end by telling him – I would rather have a few moments of extraordinary, then a lifetime of nothing special. And we had extraordinary…..we planned a beautiful wedding in just four days, and two days after that he started chemo.

He did well on chemo – his cancer markers started to decline and his Dr’s were please with his progress. Enough so that they told him they would give him a break so we could go on our honeymoon. In January we went on a cruise to the Bahamas and had the most relaxing, romantic, incredible vacation…..we left our worries behind and just enjoyed every second we had together.

When we returned Jeff went back on chemo, only this time his response was amazing….so much so that the Dr’s started talking about doing radiation as well. Radiation started in May, a long grueling month, but Jeff managed to smile every day and in June we got the most amazing results – the tumor in his esophagus was GONE. The Dr. who had done his scope told me immediately, warning me that they still needed to do biopsies, but she was very pleasantly surprised. Well, the biopsies came back two weeks later showing NO active cancer cells. Now to work on the lymph node involvement!

The chemo started again in June – his cancer marker test results came back within normal ranges. Nothing but good news! We were realistic, that “curing” stage IV esophageal cancer was not going to happen, but in the least we thought by going through everything he had in the last 9 months we had bought him YEARS more.

But that would all change on July 17, 2010. Just two weeks ago. We were laying in bed that night watching tv as we always did, curled up next to each other holding hands when Jeff complained of a throbbing headache. I gave him a couple of Motrin and he laid back down again….but within seconds he sat back up and said he was so dizzy and lightheaded. He leaned forward holding his chest and said he felt like he was having a heart attack. Before I could respond he fell back into a seizure. I dove over him and called 911, started cpr…..but he was gone. Right before my eyes he was gone. The paramedics tried everything but nothing brought him back. I found out later he died from ventricular fibrillation which led to cardiac arrest.

Were we not just celebrating how well he was doing? Had we not just booked a camping trip for the following weekend? Were we not enjoying a calm after the rollercoaster ride of emotions we had been on for the last 9 months?

I wake up every morning and I am again hit with the reality that my dear sweet man is gone. I live with no regrets – I know in my heart we could not possibly have shown more love, more appreciation to each other every day. I was his princess and he was my prince, there was nothing left unsaid. Yet I am still left with this aching emptiness inside. I feel robbed, I feel overwhelming sadness, I feel lost.

Jeff was every second of every day, we were best friends and always did everything together. If I wasn’t with him, I was talking to him. If I wasn’t talking to him, I was thinking about him. Even now, he is in every thought.

I know I am supposed to cherish every memory…..and we lived a lifetime in the last 4 years, we created so many happy memories. I will ultimately continue my life as he and I had lived, enjoying each day, finding a new reason every day to say Life is Good. But not just yet…..my heart is broken and as much as I want to be strong for him, as much as I want to smile again, as much as he would want me to…..the sadness wins over. I am hopeful that it won’t be like this forever. I am so grateful for every second I had with him, so thankful that God showed me what true love should really feel like, but I still feel cheated out of many more years of happiness.

Please tell me that this gets easier??

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Tammy,
Your story is heartbreaking, and a cruel twist of fate for sure. I am told things do get easier with time. Everyone grieves differently and that grief lasts different lengths of time. My husband died on 2/7/10, almost 6 months ago now. I have good days and then a stretch of days that are horrible. I am so lonely without him, he was my best friend and soulmate, we were married 24 years.Yet I can see, that there are others on this site that seem to be struggling after a year or more.

My curel twist of fate----My husband was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma last July. He went through chemo and the test showed the cancer was gone. The first suspicious masses were found in his neck and breast bone. And even though those masses were also gone, they wanted to do radiation to be sure no low-grade cells remained to flare up again. So we did the radiation, his last treatment was 12/28, and he was driving himself to these treatments. As the new year started we were so hopeful, and expected him to start gaining strength and getting his appetite back. But by the third week in Jan. it became clear something wasn't right. He was having all kinds of trouble breathing. And on 2/7 he was gone. He died of pulmonary fibrosis, scaring of his lungs. This was the result of the radiation to his chest. Why weren't we told this could happen, and why weren't we given the option to just follow closely with test and hold off on the radiation.

We all wanted more time with our loved ones. But God had other plans. Hold on to your good memories and cherish the time you and Jeff had, it will get you through this. Hugs to you.
Tammy,I'm so sorry for your loss and yes it was a cruel twist of fate,my husband passed 4-29-09 and even tho I have good days there are plenty of horrible days we were together 32 yrs. married 16,time does help ease the pain but the lonelyness never goes away,even tho mike was sick for 10 yrs. with emphysema his death was unexpected he had a massive heart attack at home and everything was done to bring him back but he was on life support for 3 more days,again i'm so sorry for your loss this site is very good and helpfull, god bless
Suzanne,

I am so sorry for everything you went through. I'm not sure what happened to your reply to me, it seems to have been cut off mid sentence at the end, but I did take a lot away from what I was able to read from you. I have told everyone that while this was a devastating loss after thinking Jeff was going to be here for a long time - I was so glad that he did not suffer and that we didn't have to watch helplessly as he died a slow and painful death.

I spoke to Jeff's oncologist the Monday after he died and relayed everything that had happened that night.....and he told me that he felt that because of everything I had described, the sudden throbbing headache, the seizure.....he truly feels that the cancer had spread to Jeff's brain and he would have undoubtedly endured many painful days, or weeks until the end.

I can't even imagine what you went through, my heart aches for you. I gladly take the pain of losing Jeff so suddenly so that I didn't have to watch him die the way you had to watch Dan.

We had four daughters between us ages 12, 15, 17 and 18 and he was such a wonderful father to all of them. I pray to God that they each find a man that treats them like a princess....the way he always treated me.

It is so hard to feel "grateful" when my heart is shattered in a million pieces....but I know I should be thankful that we knew ultimately his time was limited and we made the most out of every single day.

I know the rollercoaster you are on and I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you somehow find peace.....and I will remember you and Dan on January 22nd, because that is my birthday.

Tammy



Suzanne said:
Dear Tammy,
I am so sorry for all you have been through and for the loss of your husband. I can relate as in 2007 when my husband went to have a 9 hour surgery to remove a very small growth from inside his mouth they removed a long vein, muscle grafts and skin grafts from his arm and thigh which took a long time but did heal all to reconstruct inside his face. During the surgery they took out perfectly good saliva glands and lymph nodes because that's where they said the cancer would go next and they did a biopsy of his esophagus because we told them he had choking episodes in the past they discovered he had a mass of a separate cancer in which case after some months went by he received 28 radiation treatments as well as chemo. The chemo made him very sick so he would only have one for the whole five days he had to have port to pump the chemicals. After they took it out he just couldn't take any more chemo. The treatments he did receive got rid of the cancer in his esophagus but the radiation resulted in dysphagia which meant it kept closing and he had to get a gastroscopy every 2 months because it kept closing so they had to give him an IV (he said that was the worst part of the procedure because we always had to ask for an IV nurse but they sometimes didn't listen and they would give it to him the wrong way it was burning searing pain). He knew he'd need another every time he would eat and a tiny piece of food got stuck because it was closing up, he had 12 of them in all. Other things were going on, one time a biopsy they took while they were giving him a gastroscopy confirmed he also had Malt Tumor Lymphoma in his abdomen. The port they put in was removed. The stomach feeding tube they implanted dislodged and that became painful and they did emergency surgery when Dan told them to just take it out. In March of 09 he had a muscle spasm in his upper back which we tried creams, heating pads, and a chiropractor. He had cat scans and pet scans and the rash caused by the IV dye, the needle biopsy in his neck muscle that Dan said he had to be awake for it so it was the worst of all the pain he ever experienced in his life which was when they found out that the cancer mass that was in his esophagus went into his brachial plexus in his shoulder and back which rendered his whole right arm eventually useless and after the 11 additional radiation treatments the radiation doctor said on December 18, 09 that the treatments didn't get the cancer, he didn't know where it would go next and he didn't know how long he had left to live. Even then my brain went into a fog and the entire time since this nightmare began on December 21, 2007 when he had the 9 hour surgery and they took the biopsy we both thought that there would be a cure, or healing, or a miracle or something. It was 35 days after that follow-up that Danny (my husband of 39 years) passed away and on his death certificate it states his reason for death as esophageal cancer because of the reoccurance that went into his back. He ended up at home in our small apartment with me as his caregiver, me being his nurse, secretary, comforter, even until the very end I was kind of numb to what was really happening. It didn't even hit me with him being in the hospital bed, a wheelchair (that he never used) a walking cane, a walker, a commode, and a humungous oxygen holder that looked like a missile waiting to be launched. His sisters and our sons and family came over and the night before he saw our new 7 day old baby granddaughter (we have 4 grandsons) for the first and last time and then he passed in the early hours on January 22, 2010. I remember saying to him at one time while holding his hands and looking into his eyes that he shouldn't worry about me, God will take care of me. But I never had a clue it would be like this. Talk about a cruel twist of fate. It is such an emotional roller coaster with tears, fears, sadness, anger, madness, knowing we won't be together to watch our sons and
Hi Virginia,
Thank you for your reply - and I am so sorry for your loss. So many people have been so kind, wondering what they can do for me....and I tell them all the same thing, as painful as this is, this is something that I have to go through, something I have to feel completely because I will not get through this otherwise. There is nothing that will make it easier...but everyone keeps telling me it will get easier with time.

I hope you are able to find peace and again, I am so sorry for your loss.

Tammy

Virginia said:
Tammy,I'm so sorry for your loss and yes it was a cruel twist of fate,my husband passed 4-29-09 and even tho I have good days there are plenty of horrible days we were together 32 yrs. married 16,time does help ease the pain but the lonelyness never goes away,even tho mike was sick for 10 yrs. with emphysema his death was unexpected he had a massive heart attack at home and everything was done to bring him back but he was on life support for 3 more days,again i'm so sorry for your loss this site is very good and helpfull, god bless
Dear Tammy,
I am so sorry for your loss and the ensuing emotional pain you are going through. I can relate as my husband passed away after a reoccurance of the esophageal cancer that the treatments got rid of, but then the treatments resulted in him having to have his esophagus stretched every 2 months, he had 12 in all. He had lots of anguish, and pain and had gone through so, so much. It's too complex and long to go into so I will spare you and everyone the details again but I really do know how you feel because I feel it to. It has been over 6 months since Danny passed away and well, just suffice it to say I never knew it would be like this, even though I'm very glad he is no longer suffering, I still feel waves of emotions as on a roller coaster, some days are better than others for me. I pray you have peace somehow. I don't know if this will help but after someone has esophageal cancer or so I've heard that only 10% survive. Well, it seemed to make sense to me, I hope this bit of info didn't offend you in any way. But what really has helped me was to share my deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings here and by attending Bereavement support groups provided by Hospice. I believe the pain is all the same for us all. But each one of us has their own unique way of not getting over our loss, but getting through it. You are in my prayers. Take care.
God bless,
Suzanne
Hi Mary,

Thank you for your reply. I am so sorry for your loss, it seems like we all have lived our own hellish rollercoaster ride.

The man that I married spent the last 9 months fighting for his life and never once asked why me. I feel that I need to honor him by living the same way, but as you probably know it is not easy.

The one thing that I have learned since I posted my story is that mine is not unique....everyone has a tragic story, yet somehow we will survive. I have to believe that, that somehow I will survive this.

Thank you again for your response,
Tammy

Mary D said:
Hi Tammy,
Your story is heartbreaking, and a cruel twist of fate for sure. I am told things do get easier with time. Everyone grieves differently and that grief lasts different lengths of time. My husband died on 2/7/10, almost 6 months ago now. I have good days and then a stretch of days that are horrible. I am so lonely without him, he was my best friend and soulmate, we were married 24 years.Yet I can see, that there are others on this site that seem to be struggling after a year or more.

My curel twist of fate----My husband was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma last July. He went through chemo and the test showed the cancer was gone. The first suspicious masses were found in his neck and breast bone. And even though those masses were also gone, they wanted to do radiation to be sure no low-grade cells remained to flare up again. So we did the radiation, his last treatment was 12/28, and he was driving himself to these treatments. As the new year started we were so hopeful, and expected him to start gaining strength and getting his appetite back. But by the third week in Jan. it became clear something wasn't right. He was having all kinds of trouble breathing. And on 2/7 he was gone. He died of pulmonary fibrosis, scaring of his lungs. This was the result of the radiation to his chest. Why weren't we told this could happen, and why weren't we given the option to just follow closely with test and hold off on the radiation.

We all wanted more time with our loved ones. But God had other plans. Hold on to your good memories and cherish the time you and Jeff had, it will get you through this. Hugs to you.
It gets easier !
But it takes time !
Tammy, your loss is so new I know right now it is hard to see it getting easier but it does and it is a slow process that kind of sneeks up on you I remember when it started for me when I relized i wasn't crying every minute,then everyday it was kind of suprising then the guilt hit like a ton of bricks, mornings were the worst for me most times as soon as my eyes opened I would start crying thinking I woke up again, because I really didn't want to wake up and face another day without Mike then to have coffee alone and start another day, my whole being was to be with Mike, I did everything I needed to do when he passed changing things into my name and so forth, because I knew when the depression hit I wouldn't be able to do anything and when it hit it hit hard and was so dibalating so don't be hard on yourself take one day at a time it will gradually get easier, god bless
I didn't take offense Suzanne.....when Jeff was having surgery to put in a feeding tube I looked up the prognosis for stage IV esophageal cancer on one of the hospital computers. I actually learned that the 5 year survival rate was 0%. That's right.....0%. I never shared this with Jeff - he didn't want to know the statistics. We were just hopeful for as much time as possible, and honestly, even the Dr's were amazed at how well he responded to all his treatments.....we really thought he would have at least a few more years.

Today has been a hard day.....and I imagine every Sunday from now on will be. It was always a "family" day, a day that we did things together. Now everyone else is doing things with their family......and I am home alone. I spent the day cutting the grass and taking care of other yard work, just to keep busy....but I still caught myself overwhelmed by the tears that kept popping up unexpectedly. I keep telling myself one day at a time....but right now it's one moment at a time.

Suzanne said:
Dear Tammy,
I am so sorry for your loss and the ensuing emotional pain you are going through. I can relate as my husband passed away after a reoccurance of the esophageal cancer that the treatments got rid of, but then the treatments resulted in him having to have his esophagus stretched every 2 months, he had 12 in all. He had lots of anguish, and pain and had gone through so, so much. It's too complex and long to go into so I will spare you and everyone the details again but I really do know how you feel because I feel it to. It has been over 6 months since Danny passed away and well, just suffice it to say I never knew it would be like this, even though I'm very glad he is no longer suffering, I still feel waves of emotions as on a roller coaster, some days are better than others for me. I pray you have peace somehow. I don't know if this will help but after someone has esophageal cancer or so I've heard that only 10% survive. Well, it seemed to make sense to me, I hope this bit of info didn't offend you in any way. But what really has helped me was to share my deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings here and by attending Bereavement support groups provided by Hospice. I believe the pain is all the same for us all. But each one of us has their own unique way of not getting over our loss, but getting through it. You are in my prayers. Take care.
God bless,
Suzanne
Hello Tammy, this is Tom.
It sounds like your husband did remarkably well during his recovery.
My Loni had stage four breast cancer and did as well.
Four large tumors in her lung and cancerous fluid around that lung that had to be drained. All gone with the chemotheropy treatments.
Loni was on chemotheropy for two and a half years. When all that disappeared cancer was found in her liver and in a rib bone. More, but different chemotheropy treatments and those disappeared also. Loni was cancer free after that. Two months later it came back, and this time it was terminal. It was in her upper spine and going into her brain. Loni was in the hospital those last nine days. Most all of them unconsious. On the fourth day Loni woke up and was clear minded, but couldn't talk. Loni wanted to tell me she loved me, so she took my hand and put it to her mouth. I thought she was going to kiss me, but instead she put my finger in her mouth and bit me really hard, and then smiled at me.
I understood what that meant and laughed. You see that's what all of our 11 cats would do to Loni to show their affection and love to Loni. There is a way to commuicate if you know what to look for. I told Loni I would take care of all the kitties and myself. That was the last time we had together while Loni was awake.
Later that night Loni went unconsious and never woke back up.
Loni died in a coma on the 9th day. I'm glad to hear you did your research about stage four cancer, as I did on everything during the two and a half years of Loni's treatments. I knew everything that she would be doing and the procedures she would be would be going through. Like your husband, Loni didn't want to know about it. I would only tell her what I thought she should know about, as the things were being done, to calm her. Loni did know she was dying and was ready for it. It was a long fight, and Loni was so tired of it. I wish more people with stage four cancer would understand that there is no cure for cancer at that stage, or any stage, but there is hope it will not come back at the earlier stages. Once it is in stage four, it's already traveling through out the body and every cancer cell can not be killed, only the most active ones will respond to the chemotheropy treatments. It's still a shock when you are told it's terminal. Loni never heard that, but she knew. These days when I think about Loni I smile, but not today.
Today is one of those days that sneeks up on you, and it's a sad day for me.
Tom
I am sorry for your loss Tom, it sounds like you had a wonderful connection with Loni. How long has she been gone? It has only been two weeks since Jeff died and I guess I am still surprised by how quickly the emotions can sneak up on me. I will have a moment where I think Wow, I don't feel any sadness......and a few moments later the tears start without warning. How ironic that the only thing that ever calmed my emotions was having Jeff's arms around me and now when I am experiencing the most painful thing in my life, I don't have that comfort anymore.

Tom said:
Hello Tammy, this is Tom.
It sounds like your husband did remarkably well during his recovery.
My Loni had stage four breast cancer and did as well.
Four large tumors in her lung and cancerous fluid around that lung that had to be drained. All gone with the chemotheropy treatments.
Loni was on chemotheropy for two and a half years. When all that disappeared cancer was found in her liver and in a rib bone. More, but different chemotheropy treatments and those disappeared also. Loni was cancer free after that. Two months later it came back, and this time it was terminal. It was in her upper spine and going into her brain. Loni was in the hospital those last nine days. Most all of them unconsious. On the fourth day Loni woke up and was clear minded, but couldn't talk. Loni wanted to tell me she loved me, so she took my hand and put it to her mouth. I thought she was going to kiss me, but instead she put my finger in her mouth and bit me really hard, and then smiled at me.
I understood what that meant and laughed. You see that's what all of our 11 cats would do to Loni to show their affection and love to Loni. There is a way to commuicate if you know what to look for. I told Loni I would take care of all the kitties and myself. That was the last time we had together while Loni was awake.
Later that night Loni went unconsious and never woke back up.
Loni died in a coma on the 9th day. I'm glad to hear you did your research about stage four cancer, as I did on everything during the two and a half years of Loni's treatments. I knew everything that she would be doing and the procedures she would be would be going through. Like your husband, Loni didn't want to know about it. I would only tell her what I thought she should know about, as the things were being done, to calm her. Loni did know she was dying and was ready for it. It was a long fight, and Loni was so tired of it. I wish more people with stage four cancer would understand that there is no cure for cancer at that stage, or any stage, but there is hope it will not come back at the earlier stages. Once it is in stage four, it's already traveling through out the body and every cancer cell can not be killed, only the most active ones will respond to the chemotheropy treatments. It's still a shock when you are told it's terminal. Loni never heard that, but she knew. These days when I think about Loni I smile, but not today.
Today is one of those days that sneeks up on you, and it's a sad day for me.
Tom

Loni died on December 9th,2009.
It takes a while to go through all the emotions that will surface from time to time. In the beginning it was so hard to deal with. Still can be, if I let it. Loni and I were married May 17th, 2003. I waited 53 years to find her, and be married for my first time, and only time.

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