I recently received this story and it left me in tears. Heather is opening up today about fighting for marriage when a chronic illness is fighting for her life. I am in awe of the perseverance and dedication Heather has to bless her husband despite her pain and weakness! This inspiring true-story is sure to encourage any wife to be a blessing in her marriage, while giving hope specifically to those living with a chronic illness.
I have Systemic Lupus. I had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma three years ago. The last 4 years of my marriage have been a carousel of happy times swirled with chemotherapy and sickness. I went from being my husband’s successful, lovely bride to what I felt was a hideous, tiring burden. I morphed from a successful career woman to the lost shell of a woman waiting for disability in a matter of a few short years, yet he stood by me and his love has been the fuel for my soul and the energy I use to keep fighting. He and I keep fighting together and I am getting better.
Chronic illness is not easy for anyone-single or married. There are those with Lupus and Cancer who believe that it is better to be single. There is no one to burden on the bad days, no one to fuss over or take care of on the good days. I think that sounds awfully lonely.
I do know that it takes a special kind of husband to endure watching his wife slowly fade away, like a flower wilting in the sunlight. That same kind of husband has been, for me, a reason to keep fighting. It’s the love I have for my husband that wakes me up in the morning to tell him ‘goodbye’ as he leaves for work when I’m too tired to open my eyes. It’s my love for him that gets me up out of bed despite having no energy at all to put on my makeup, my wig and some lipstick so I can try to appear ‘normal’, maybe even pretty, like I looked when he fell in love with me before I got so sick. And it’s this same love for my husband that pulls me back from the darkest reaches of my mind when the pain becomes too much and giving up starts to sound appealing. I fight through the pain, the exhaustion, the toxic poisons in my body that are supposed to be healing me-I fight my way back from hell to get to him again. For one more night to lie next to him, feeling his hands rub the hair that just started growing back in on my head as he puts me to sleep.
If you’ve ever had cancer, if you’ve ever had chemo or a chronic disease like Lupus you already know that sometimes the pain and exhaustion is more than anyone can bear. You start to fear dying a little less every day until it actually becomes a destination that comforts you instead of frightening you. You know that when you die, your pain will end. For those of you who are assured of your salvation, you know that you will be united with God and surrounded by all your loved ones who have gone before you. There are no more tears. No more hospitals. No more pills. No more hurting.
To someone in constant pain, the idea of death brings relief.
It is my husband’s love that champions me to fight for my life instead of succumbing to the idea of giving up and going ‘home.’ The love we have for each other is sweeter to me than the host of heaven’s angels, even if it means I have to hurt physically and fight daily to be here with him.
So for those of you fighting demons of your own, whether it’s cancer or chronic illness or depression; whatever it may be, fight hard. Give it everything you’ve got. There are days you don’t feel like getting up and picking up the house before your husband gets home. If you can, do it anyway. More often than not you won’t feel like cooking, but surprise him with a yummy meal sometimes anyway. Take 5 minutes to put on some pretty smelling lotion, lipstick, eyeliner and mascara. Put on a nice wig or a cute wrap on your head. TRY. FIGHT! I’m not saying to sacrifice your well being to make your husband happy. The reality is that there are going to be times that you simply can’t do these things and it takes all the energy you have to simply exist.
I’m saying to fight with everything you’ve got because it’s not easy for him either.
Do whatever is in your power to reassure him that he’s loved, even if it’s as simple as making the bed or trying to look nice and smell good for him. I hope everyone with health challenges is as lucky as I am to have such a wonderful husband or reason to fight.
Cancer, illness and chemo – they rob you of your wellness but they can never steal your soul unless you let them.
– Heather Joy Ali