Two years ago, I thought my life was over.
Two years, eleven days and a handful of hours ago, a very kind NHS team eased my 40-year-old, marathon-running, century-cycling partner and me into the idea that he had a Stage 2 Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) in his left kidney, and that it was big enough to worry about metastasis.
It’s weird, I know, to say that I thought my life was over. But because I was diagnosed with depression and an anxiety disorder at a very young age, my partner was my rock. Where I am volatile, he is steady. While I am glass mostly empty, he is almost always glass nearly full. We’ve been together longer than we’ve been apart and all of a sudden, I was staring down not only a life without him, which was already unfathomable. But the resurgence of emotional demons long restrained and itching for fun. A life I literally could not tolerate.
I want to talk about depression and anxiety in caregivers. In the first few months, with hospital appointments and scans and visiting friends and relatives, wound-cleaning and research and recovery, it’s sometimes possible to hold back the – well, for me it’s a black hole; everyone experiences it differently – just enough to cope. But when those immediate worries stretch into the months between appointments and scans, there’s so much time to imagine the worst. And when you already have depression, the worst can be really, really bad. For me, I was convinced that losing my partner to kidney cancer would mean losing both of us.
It’s okay as a carer to need help. We’re two years out from the surgery, (it hadn’t been metastatic, thank goodness) and I still use the strategies I learned from a therapist to get between appointments – focus on now, understand that the past (clean scans) is the best predictor of the future, breathe before you panic, exercise, remember to take your medicine. And that’s why the work of Kidney Cancer UK to support families is so incredibly important, and why we passionately stand behind it.
Am I stronger than I was? Probably not. Have I survived two years, eleven days and several hours longer than I ever thought possible? I sure have.
Last weekend we ran our third half-marathon of the year. We’ve pledged to run 13 of them this year to raise funds for Kidney Cancer UK.
Every step is a reminder that we’re both still here and still moving forward. For the moment, it’s enough……Breathe.
Author – Kurstin Finch Gehmn
To support Kurstin and Jesse in their runs visit their JustGiving page here.
Added by Kidney Cancer UK. If you are affected by any elements of this blog we have a counselling service available free to patients, carers and their families. Please follow this link for more information.
Note: The views and opinions in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Kidney Cancer UK or Kidney Cancer Scotland .