Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

I've never been much for Hallmark Holidays.  But, perversely, should my husband ignore it, it would be at his peril.

People are complicated.

Men say they don't care about it, and I think they truly mean that.  We women say it too, but I'm not sure we fully mean it.  For the majority of us, at least one day a year we want to be appreciated by our men as feminine and attractive women.  That's not to say our men don't treat us right the rest of the year.  But,  Valentine's Day is pure,silly romance and not about being admired for strength of character or a being a full partner.  It's about being appreciated merely for being a woman - his woman.  No, we don't need Mr. Hallmark to remind us when to be romantic, but it also doesn't hurt.

And, it's good for the economy.

As I've said before, breast cancer has not changed my self perception, and my feminine identity hasn't been downgraded at all.  Breast or not, hair or not, I feel exactly the same.

But, has it changed for my husband?    He's now seen me, a woman who once had a pretty great figure,  with a caved in hole where a breast should be.  Nightly, he sits and eats dinner and watches  TV with a bald woman who wears no makeup because it's causing eye infections, and who has a ridiculous hand-held fan in her pocket for sudden hot-flashes, and who has two very different sized breastical areas -one resembles nothing more than a hard turtle shell crawling towards the neck.   I look sickly, ten years older than I did three months ago,  and my energy for him or anything has never been lower.

Hell, I have poison coming out my pores.  After chemo, my dog sniffs me for days.

It might be unpleasant for him to have a wife he once thought was pretty end up permanently scarred and bald and sick and smelling like chemicals..

For the rest of his life, he's going to have to put up with a woman with mismatched breasts, with scars, who will have repeated surgeries. He, too, will live with the fact that it could come back at any  time, and maybe next time will be fatal..  And, yet, he's never once made me feel anything less than I was before and in fact, I'll bet none of what I just wrote ever crossed his mind.

If it did, he never told me.

So, this Valentine's Day I think I need to forget my false idea of what is romantic and remember all he's done.  No matter how tired he is or how long a day he has had, he stops and picks up food because I can't cook - without complaint.  He's cleaned the bathrooms when my whites are low so I don't get sick.  Almost all errands are run by him.   Weekly,  on chemo day, he cuts out of work early to pick our son up from school. He's picked up my slack in more ways than I can count - including financially.  My salary is cut in half and as a state worker, he's taken a 15% paycut.  Yet our expenses have gone up due to my medical condition - we have copays sometimes four times a week.  Prescriptions and hosptial parking fees and medical equipment and gas to and from appointments, and silly things like wigs and foobs and false eyelashes and even heating bills as I'm cold all the time  - and I've not heard a word of complaint.

That's romance baby - the quiet kind.

So, happy Valentine's Day, honey, and thank for all you do - and if you feel cheated, thank you for never letting on.  It's truly what marriage is all about - not Valentine's Day cards and flowers.   When all this is over, I owe you one and I won't forget it.

Now, where's my chocolates?

(See, I told you people are complicated)



  1. oh yes, you have covered it nicely. My husband sent me roses and signed it for his love and support. We have been down the road to hell in the past few years and now are both facing health issues. But we are still happy.

  2. I came across your blog on and it has been a pleasure to read your entries. You have a way with words; your entries are humorous, insightful and meaningful without being in your face. My husband must think I am a loon because as I read your entries, I have laughed out loud thinking, she hit it right on the head. She is describing exactly how I feel. Hopefully, I will get my energy back soon since I am done with chemo. Thank you for sharing your gift. Happy Valentine's Day!

  3. Hi! I am a breast cancer survivor who just stumbled onto your blog. You have a great sense of humor and way of explaining what it feels like. I am a year out and just had my first reconstructive surgery.

    You are so right about Valentine's Day. It's the little things that matter....the little sacrifices he makes that speak volumes, more than any roses or chocolates every could. God bless,

    Kerry Osborne

  4. right on, sister! my hubs is just as wonderful, and despite my wildly varying size, distracting network of scars, occasional baldness and rapid aging, he still not only tells me he loves me but actually seems to find me attractive! that, and he vacuums. love rocks.

    and, btw, so do you. here's to fatigue! off for my nap.

    happy v-day!

  5. Very well said ... it's not a pretty sight but they hang in there for us.


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