My husband was diagnosed with acute kidney disease with renal failure in 2012. At that time, he was driving a truck making 10-day trips from Texas to New Mexico and I often accompanied him.
On April 1, 2012, I started my period. I had been dealing with “the change” for ten years, which included horrible, heavy periods. This time it seemed different. Because of his condition and the fact that we were on the road, I reassured myself it was all due to menopause. The bleeding continued through July.
Then my husband tore his rotator cuff, his truck broke down and we came in for a layover. I accompanied Rick to his appointment with the nephrologist. He sat down across from us, listened to Rick, checked him out, and then said, “Rick, if I didn’t know you were the patient, I would think I was here to see Margaret.”
The doctor got up, came over to where I was and began to examine me. He checked my eyes and said, “Margaret, I’m not trying to scare you, but something is wrong. I want you in my office in the morning at 9:00 a.m.” We explained that I was going through menopause, but he insisted on seeing me. The next morning the doctor did a complete workup.
That afternoon, we were resting at home and my phone rang. The doctor said, “Margaret, when my patients have a blood level of less than 9, I have them go to the hospital and receive blood. Yours is at 5. You will be at the hospital in the morning at 7 a.m.”
The next morning I received two units of blood. While waiting for it to finish, the director of nursing came into my room to talk with me. She asked if I knew why my blood was so low. I told her about my menstrual periods and experiencing menopause. She asked if I had seen my gynecologist and I told her no, I had not. I had talked with his receptionist but had no insurance and therefore would not be scheduled. This was my doctor who had delivered my children and grandchildren! I had been one of his first patients many years before when he first came to town!
Forty-five minutes later, my ob/gyn walked in. He wanted to know why I had not come to see him. I told him about the periods, the change, and the receptionist. He simply shook his head and said that he wanted me in for a D&C the next morning.
A week later, I was called to his office for the path report. It was uterine cancer. I had a radical hysterectomy in September. The pathology report was Stage 1 uterine cancer, confined to the uterus (almost unheard of according to my oncologist), graded at 2, the most aggressive form of uterine cancer. I was told by both my oncologist and ob/gyn that had it not been caught, I would have had about six months to live and that death would’ve been excruciating.
When I was diagnosed, I promised my husband and family that I would not give up; I would fight! And if cancer took my life it would be after I had beat the crap out of it!
I had cancer … but cancer did not have me!
When the final pathology report came, my oncologist said that the cancer had been contained and caught early enough; there would be no need for chemo or radiation. The only lingering effect would be that since I had such radical surgery and had lost over 12 pints of blood, my legs would not have the blood return to what is considered “normal.” No guarantees of life.
I lost my husband 2½ years later on a Thursday morning when his heart simply stopped. Two weeks before, we were told that his heart was as strong as an 18-year-old in perfect health. One breath–my hand on his chest–he was gone. I have struggled wondering why I survived cancer, yet he didn’t survive this one heartbeat.
Now, seven years a cancer survivor and five years a widow, life goes on. I continue to fight like a girl. I made another promise to him that morning he died, “I will be your widow, one that you will be proud of and say, ‘You done good, girl.’” I made a promise to my family that I would not give in to the grief that threatens to consume me.
I fight like a girl, every moment of every day and night. I will continue to do so until I have no more heartbeat in me.
I love you, Rick.
Always and forever,
Your Megan Lee.
After 35 years of marriage to my best friend & Sweetheart, and now 5 years a widow, I am learning to laugh, love, and live again without his support and encouragement. Great grief is indicative of a great love, so I will wear this mantle with honor, hoping that God will find a way to make me useful for Him in someone’s life each day. I love to serve, and to give and to love. All of me, is all God’s. I love to love, to serve, and to give. I also love to listen. And in these 5 years since Rick died, I have done a lot of listening to other widows and widowers – at all stages in this grief. I am a widow, a Momma and a Grannee. Striving to live such a life that Rick will one day open his arms again and say, “You done good, girl! Welcome home!” You can find me online here.