Jack, Caregiver for Audrey, Breast Cancer Survivor
Jack recounts how he urged Audrey to try out the free wigs at the American Cancer Society, where she then attended a free Look Good…Feel Better® class.
Jack, you and Audrey have been married 51 years. What’s it like to hear that your lifelong partner has cancer?
I’d compare it to a sudden blow to the stomach, one that comes without warning. All of us feel fear when we hear the word “cancer,” but when it’s the love of your life…
How was Audrey’s breast cancer discovered?
Since her mother died of the disease in 1995, Audrey’s been adamant about getting her yearly mammogram and doing self-exams. She discovered the lump in her breast, which was a blessing – finding it at an early stage has made it very treatable.
What has her treatment been like?
We are receiving care 80 miles from our home in Waltonville, Illinois. Audrey has undergone surgery and 4 rounds of chemotherapy. Our daughter and 3 sons took turns making the trip with us. It’s difficult to take in everything the doctors need us to know, so having family around us made a big difference.
What was the most difficult moment for you?
Rather than waiting for her hair to fall out, Audrey asked our daughter to cut it when the time came. I was ready…or at least I thought I was.
One evening I was out in the barn after a long day of putting up hay on our farm. Sheila and Audrey came out to greet me, and for the first time in our lives, there was Audrey without the beautiful hairstyle she’d always had. In that moment I just felt so helpless. The tears started falling…we stood there together, just holding each other for a long time.
Was there anything that helped you keep going?
I’d heard about the free wigs available from the American Cancer Society, so I suggested we visit. “How about a red one?” I said. “I will never wear a red wig!” Audrey told me. But when we got there, the patient services coordinator said, “Why not?” From the waiting room I could hear them laughing and carrying on while they tried on the different styles… it was the most I’d seen Audrey smile since she’d first gotten sick. After all those months of sadness, it was such a welcome sight.
It sounds like Audrey hasn’t let cancer take away what matters most to her.
She’s always been a beautiful woman, and the red wig looks wonderful on her! She also attended a free Look Good…Feel Better® class at the Society and really enjoyed the experience.
We still count our blessings, even with cancer. Audrey is my heartbeat, and I’ll be at her side, no matter what the future brings.