As a way to thank Miles for all he has done for her, Emily nominated him for a Caregiver Award called “The Wind Beneath My Wings” Award. This was her submission. Enjoy.
My husband, Miles Taylor, is the love of my life, the Wind Beneath My Wings, and the embodiment of selfless love.
Although, up until a few months ago, before my diagnosis, I would have more likely described him as a goofy, over-sized, overactive kid. Not to sell him short – he has a graduate degree, a good job, and possesses a deep moral code – but the guy can, and does, make a game out of anything.
It’s not like I didn’t know what I was getting into. I met him my junior year of college when he showed up as the new ball boy for my volleyball team, and let’s just say this was not the official attire.
To give you a sense of who Miles is, I have to go back to a few of the highlights. His wedding proposal lasted four hours. It was a scavenger hunt that led me to clues all over the city of Los Angeles and finally back to our college campus, all along the way revisiting spots that held special memories in our blossoming relationship.
Of course I said, “YES!” This is just us being excited about the idea of getting married (and yes, that’s a bed sheet I’m wearing).
The wedding itself, held on the 4th of July two years ago, was a four day affair. Miles planned the three days of “pre-game” activities for our 200 out-of-town guests, renting a park, a gym, a disco, and an entire bowling alley. He organized days with river rafting, softball, volleyball, and basketball, and nights with pub crawls, casino games, and dancing. And of course there were prizes galore.
I took charge of the actual wedding, making sure it was a tasteful event. All I asked Miles to do was arrange transportation for the guests from the State Capital gardens to the reception. I had imagined a large, comfortable, air-conditioned charter bus for the 100+ degree Sacramento heat. This is what he delivered.
Holidays with Miles are incredible affairs: always costumes, always a party. He starts decorating earlier than Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Unexpectedly, I will arrive home from work and see our apartment ablaze in Halloween or Christmas lights and know that the local 99¢ Store has been depleted and its contents are now in my house.
And then there are all of his own annual traditions which bring together family and friends and involve elaborate details and homemade games like Thanksgiving jeopardy, family betting on the Oscars, Ryder Cup, Life Domination, every Steelers game, and the Rose Bowl, where we rent an RV and live in the stadium parking lot pretending to be from one of the teams. Miles finds a school yearbook and assigns us all names and personalities, and then provides shirts and flags and we all end up talking like we’re from Wisconsin. But like any overactive boy, Miles can be a lot of work. Not a week goes by that he doesn’t lose his keys, or his phone, or his credit cards. He never wants to go to sleep at a decent hour, and he has yet to locate the laundry room. So amidst all the fun, I had a small nagging concern about Miles as, well, as a father. Sure, all kids love him, but would he remember to pick them up at soccer practice, or be able to discipline them? My mother-in-law suggested starting him out on a dog. So I got him Ginny for his birthday.
Cute, huh? Well, that idea backfired. Miles taught her to howl, growl, dance, and fight, leaving me with two wild creatures running loose in the apartment.
And then I got cancer. And my husband grew up overnight.
Miles is, without a doubt, the Ultimate Caregiver. He calls this “the biggest game of our lives,” and has assumed all responsibilities so that I can focus exclusively on beating my deadly opponent.
- Around the house, he won’t let me lift a finger. In fact, I first knew I was really sick when he starting loading and unloading the dishwasher, because I wasn’t aware that he knew we had one.
- He has added cooking and paying the bills to his household chores. And because I have difficulty breathing around pollen, he makes paper flowers for my breakfast tray.
- During chemo week, he makes homemade checklists with little boxes to track my medicines, holds my hair back when I hug the toilet bowl, and sets the alarm throughout the night to feed me Saltines so I don’t wake up feeling queasy in the morning.
- To keep the house clean, he has adopted a “no shoes in the house” policy, opens all mail and deliveries to keep my hands clean, and forces Ginny into the shower with him after her walks. The poor dog’s skin is so dried out that she can’t stop scratching from being so clean!
- Miles used to work from bed in the early morning while tuned into ESPN, but now he sneaks out at dawn because he knows that, as much as I love him, I sleep better when I am alone and can stretch out for a few more hours of shut-eye. And because I chill easily, he keeps warm fluffy blankets throughout the house, and covers me in heated blankets when I am at the hospital between procedures. This is me in the hospital lobby on a bed that Miles made.
Miles is a top-notch Medical Researcher & Communicator.
- For a guy with “white coat syndrome” who avoids doctors at all costs, this cancer diagnosis has been a challenge for Miles on multiple levels. But you would never know it to hear him converse with medical professionals after being up all night learning about my disease. As my diagnosis progressed from what we thought was a carcinoid to lymphoma to finally Stage IV adenocarcinoma, as our vocabulary grew to include acronyms like EGFR, KRAS and ROS1, as the search for care took us to City of Hope, USC, UC Davis, UCSF and Mt. Sinai, I have never had to log on to a medical website. Miles has done all the research.
- Miles has a brilliant mind and has been able to weed through so much material. He carefully selects what will be most helpful to me, summing up what he has learned in simple terms and analogies. Then he filters out all the scary stuff so I can focus on the positive.
- Despite being an Econ major/MBA guy, he has embraced alternative medicine as well. He supplies me with daily doses of alkaline water, grapefruit juice, curcumin, and over-ripe bananas (ugh!) which he hides inside yogurt. He even hired a doctor in hypnotherapy to guide me through visual meditative exercises.
- Miles keeps our family and friends informed with written reports, initially as emails and now as blog posts, which are both entertaining and informative. For example, he uploaded CT scans of my lungs before and after the first two rounds of chemo and used Microsoft Paint to visually explain my wonderful progress!
- Miles also supported my fervent desire to preserve my fertility, so that within days of my diagnosis we were actively involved in the fertilization process. This man who passes out at the mere mention of a flu shot, prepared my hormone injections, and while his mother inserted the fluid into my belly, stood at the base of our bed displaying photos of a boy and a girl on his laptop, images he created by morphing our faces. Two weeks later, we were naming our nine precious fertilized embryos.
Miles is the Best Coach ever. I have played sports all my life and I respond well to coaching. Miles was also a college athlete and we have often talked about what makes a great coach. I know Miles’ dream is to coach a high school basketball team, but instead he got me. And I am the lucky one.
- For inspiration, he researches and prints stories of survivors.
- For visualization, he found caps in our spice cabinet demonstrating how big my tumor was when we started (garlic salt), the results after six weeks (balsamic vinegar) and our goal for the next CT scan (vanilla extract).
- For discipline, he goes “drill sergeant” on me when I need it. There are no days off. He keeps tabs that I’m meditating twice a day, drinking massive quantities of alkaline water, and maintaining a “kick-ass” attitude.
- For support, he climbs into bed next to me each night, no matter how tired he is, and talks to each part of my body. He tells every limb and every organ how strong it is, he speaks to my white blood cells that are attacking the tumor, he reminds me how strong I am and about my conviction to beat this. And then he describes our future family and how excited it makes him. Finally, Miles sings me an Irish lullaby and says that when I feel his touch at night, he is transferring his strength to me so that I will be twice as strong as I fight this.
Our lives have changed drastically in a few short months. Miles sold his beloved truck for a cleaner, more comfortable vehicle to drive me to treatments. He no longer plans parties or wears costumes, his golf clubs are gathering dust, and there hasn’t been a peep about Fantasy Football. Miles is glued to my side and assures me I will never go through any part of this alone.
A few days after my initial biopsy, we received an email from the Chief of Medicine at the City of Hope. We were thrilled to have made the connection. She asked who was caring for me – apparently she was looking for the name of my primary physician – but I answered “Miles.” And I am standing by that answer.
I sometimes miss the fun-loving carefree boy who had never heard of an adenocarcinoma . . . but I am ever so grateful for the man who is now by my side.
I love you, Miles.
-Emily “EmBen” Taylor