3 things I’ve learned from my wife’s brain cancer relapse

Prior to my wife’s glioblastoma diagnosis in 2013, I traveled a lot for my job, both inside and outside the U.S. That arrangement worked out pretty well, even after Susie’s first brain cancer diagnosis in 1999, because she had surgery and joined a clinical trial at MD Anderson that left her cancer-free for 14 years. But I think we underestimated how difficult things were going to be the second time around. We just assumed that because she’d done so well the first time, we might have a similar experience. Unfortunately, Susie had different and more severe side effects from treatment. Her body just wasn’t as strong as it had been when she was 34. It took us by surprise. Here are three things I’ve learned from that experience. Be specific when asking for help The most debilitating side effect Susie experienced was a pontine (brain stem) stroke in 2015. It was likely caused by a weakening of blood vessels from two full rounds of radiation therapy. After that, I could no longer travel for my job. Susie needed more dedicated care. The stroke left her unable to work or perform many basic functions. She had to relearn how to walk, bathe and feed herself, among other things. In hindsight, balancing Susie’s care with my job and two teenagers was pretty overwhelming. I probably should’ve asked for help. It took our youngest asking for help on Facebook for me to realize how eager friends and family were to jump in, and that I really needed the help. I just had to ask and be specific about what and where. Today,...