Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why Cry? - by Joe

Heidi, awaiting chemo at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
I remember in 2004, when Heidi was first diagnosed with Stage2 breast cancer I asked her how I could support her.  Although I don't remember the conversation exactly we had with another person, I'll never forget Heidi's response.."I don't want Joe crying or showing weakness - I need him to be strong!" 

I believe Heidi was hanging on to hope and determined to beat this monster so she wanted me to exert that same strong determination.  I tried to do it. 

The shocking return of her cancer in 2008, now Stage 4(metastatic) changed the rules.  We expected only a year together based on her oncologist's words.  My tears became not a symbol of despair but of caring, support.  I can't remember how many times we collapsed in each others' arms, stunned that she had fallen into the 15% treatment failure statistic. 

And when I got cancer 3 months later I encouraged her tears, & more falling in each others' arms.  When Heidi is asleep from side effects, there are 3 mighty cedar trees on our property that welcome me to curl up against their roots, pouring my heart out to God how badly it hurts to see this vibrant woman I cherish facing death from within her own beautiful body.

Whether cancer tears are from fear, from grief, from releasing future dreams/hopes.. if you hold them in they become another type of cancer, eating away at your soul.  If you have cancer or have a loved one with cancer, please fight despair but welcome tears.

As always, your support for us is a priceless gift!

- Joe


  1. I am so sorry now that I tried to gut my way through this in 2004 and that I put such a limiting requirement for Joe to follow. I wanted so much to pretend that it wasn't happening. Now I trust God much more to bring tears at appropriate times. And I appreciate Joe's sensitivity and willingness to feel all the emotions around this whole process.

  2. Pam and I have discovered on our journey that one of the best gifts we can give each other is to allow the other to help, even when we don't want help, and to embrace the tears -- just as you said.

    We each know, like you and Heidi, what it's like to battle a disease robbing us of energy and life. And we each know and understand that it is harder to watch your spouse hurt than it is to experience your own pain.

    I feel blessed to have gotten to know you, Joe, and Heidi. Thank you for letting Pam and I take your journey with you. I pray God will sync your desires with his for the next leg of your journey. Because, when we are in step with Him the journey is just somehow better...maybe not easier...but, better.

  3. Hi Joe, I appreciate the honesty of your posts. I need to be more real in mine. Today we learned that my husband's CEA levels have risen steadily since December. The CT shows growth in his tumors. He has Stage IV colon cancer- mets to both lungs. We are discouraged that the latest treatment didn't at least stabilize the disease.
    We have been dealing with cancer since 2005 and it is exhausting. I am so thankful that caregivers and cancer warriors have the Internet to connect and support each other.

  4. As your posts make clear, tears do not indicate an absence of strength, just a realization that pain, fear, loss are real.

  5. Tears are good. Mine are generally in the middle of the night in the midst of prayers.

  6. Larry & Pam: you are inspirations to us! We still listen to that song you introduced us to: 'Pray for me'
    Whidbey: I am so sorry to hear about the CEA's - we will be praying for him. As I type this, we are waiting to here Heidi's CEA for today.
    Victoria, thank you so much.
    WhiteStone: Are you able to get back to skeep afterwards? I have a lot of trouble there..

  7. Dear Joe,

    It takes a tremendous amount of strength to shed tears, for when we cry, we are literally risking a complete collapse. Your faith and trust in God is allowing you to shed those tears, you need to. You can't hold it all in. Heidi, you are a pillar of strength. I admire you both so much. This post was so beautiful, and so gracious. I feel privileged to have read these words. Gods' Blessings.