When Your Life Gets Turned Upside Down
By Guest Blogger Lisa Blobstein
At 35, I had it all.
I had a newborn son and was married to the most incredible man I had ever met. I had great friends, family and a job I loved. I was dreaming of mommy and child classes and being a family.
And then, everything changed.
My husband complained that it felt like he had butterflies in his stomach and I urged him to see a doctor. Being new parents and dealing with my father-in-law’s health issues, we both thought it was stress-related. An ulcer or maybe IBS. He went to the doctor and underwent routine blood tests.
The results came back anything but routine.
The Sunday morning of my brother’s wedding, we got a call that he was losing blood from somewhere and there was something seriously wrong. We knew a Sunday call was not a good sign. Soon after, he went for a private colonoscopy and the results would change our lives forever.
Stage 4 colon cancer that had already spread to his liver.
We were paralyzed with fear. In shock. How could this be?
He was just 37. No family history of the disease. We had a newborn at home. We were just building our lives together. We were so crazy in love. Our world turned upside down. CANCER. That happens to other people. Not us.
At that moment, everything I had dreamed of came crashing down like a house of cards. And then I went into planning mode. Who do we know that can help us see the best doctors and beat this? I believed that he was young and strong and would beat this. There was no other way. We had a child that needed both of us and I couldnt imagine that our life together was going to end before it had really begun.
HOPE. That it what kept me going.There were chemo visits and surgeries. There were good days that we held on to with everything we had. And there were bad days where the pain was so intense, I thought… could this be it? But the chemo was working. The tumours were shrinking. And his doctors were optimistic. Finally, a light at the end of our darkness.
Then one morning, almost a year to the day of his diagnosis, we went into the hospital for another surgery. It was a minor one compared to the two others he had had. We were both looking forward to the surgery being over because for however long it lasted, he would be cancer-free. And strangely enough, neither one of us was nervous about this surgery because we truly believed that this was the end of our cancer journey for the time being. A break from chemo. A return to having a life. Being parents. Being grateful for what we had.
And then, once again, everything changed.
There were complications in surgery. A blood clot. And he was dead.
He was just 38. We were parents. At 36 years old, I was a widow with a 17 month old little boy. How could this be? How did this happen? Everything was over. We are not supposed to be widowed in our thirties. The pain was so deep I could barely breathe. I didn’t know what to do. How was I going to go on? How was I going to bury the love of my life, the father of my son?
All my hopes and dreams were going to be buried too.
I was completely and utterly broken. I was angry and bitter. My life was shattered. For the first year after Steve died, I was crushed- merely only a shadow of my old self. I was in a depression so deep that I thought the darkness would just crush me. I felt like a hamster in a cage. I was going, but getting nowhere. I wanted the world to stop so that I could just grieve properly. But my son still needed to eat, drink and be changed. I still needed to get up in the morning.
It felt like the world around me was moving, but I was at a complete standstill. I was paralyzed from the incredible and overwhelming sadness. But I needed to somehow find a new normal. My husband would not have wanted us to stop living.
I saw therapists, went to group therapy sessions, cried, screamed and got angry. I took antidepressants and anxiety medication. I returned to work, started socializing. And I began to live again.With time and a lot of help from wonderful people, I decided to open myself up to love again, never really imagining that it was possible. And then, another man walked into our life and gave us hope for new tomorrows. He gave us love and showed us that there was indeed joy in the world when I could not see through the darkest clouds.
Almost four years after my first husband died, I have recently remarried and my son has a “Papa”. We have found a “new normal” and have made new hopes and dreams. My first husband is never far away from my thoughts and his pictures still hang in my house. Every happy moment is always tinged with sadness– our son’s first hockey class, first day at pre-school, holidays, birthdays. I still cry, and I still miss him. But we have made a new life. And we are living. Because when the dream that was is no longer possible, you have to dream a different dream.—
Lisa Blobstein is a Communications Officer at a long-term care Centre in Montreal. She is also the busy mom of 5 year-old AJ and an active volunteer in the fight against cancer. Her greatest wish is that no other little boy loses a parent to this deadly disease.
I read Lisa’s brave story and wanted to share it with all of you. Please feel free to leave Lisa a comment – she will be reading.
Lisa’s husband Steve was a huge baseball and softball fan. Lisa is organizing the 4th annual softball game in Steve’s memory with 100% of monies raised being split between the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada and CanSupport- two organizations which were so helpful to Lisa and her husband throughout their cancer battle. Please take a moment to visit, and feel free to donate if you feel inclined. Please visit stevelisiak.myevent.com.