When my wife Jessica found out she was a carrier of the BRCA gene, we were both concerned about what this might mean for our future. But back then, it was just a concern, not a reality. Even though Jess was undergoing regular testing, I was blissfully ignorant to what ‘might be’.
From finding out she was positive for the gene, to going for routine tests, I continued to push cancer aside, until one day, we could not ignore it anymore.
I had been around cancer before, with my mum having gone through breast cancer and my brother, testicular cancer, so while I feel it was third time ‘unlucky’, perhaps this meant I was more prepared.
We decided to move in with Jess’s parents, which was a tough, but important decision to make. In doing so, it meant that I was still able to work and have a distraction from the huge challenge that cancer presented us with.
Thankfully, my work was flexible, so this meant I was able to accompany Jess to hospital appointments or meetings with specialists.
I knew that during this time our relationship would have to look different.
We would still spend time together, but there was no pressure for date night, heading out to restaurants or for romance. In fact, it was risky for Jess to take unnecessary trips out, with her immune system being compromised. Instead, our time was spent laying low, sitting on the couch, or just taking a quiet stroll, which I was fine with.
In terms of dealing with Jess’s diagnosis, just like her, I took each day as it came. The help we received from both our families during this time took the burden off me to cover all the household bills and chores, so I could just focus on Jess and my work.
Jess also knew I wasn’t an expert, so when she needed extra support, she took on psychology sessions provided by the hospital, which was important. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t be all things to her, all of the time.
Jess and I had been together for many years, so I knew that our relationship could look different for as long as it needed to, and we would find our way back.
And that’s exactly what we’re doing now. Since Jess’s diagnosis and treatment, we’ve since been married and moved back into our own place. We’ve both gotten new jobs and are finding our feet. Even though our reality has changed, we’re still together, stronger than ever, and look forward to making future plans.