When I met my husband, Miles, in college, I was independent, carefree, strong-willed. I wanted a career, and I wasn’t sure marriage or children fit into that. But Miles – he made me laugh like I’d never laughed before. And that’s all it took. His desire for a whole basketball team of kids running around was infectious, and within weeks of dating I knew he was The One. I was lucky that he felt the same, and am so grateful this streak of luck continues all these years later.
Miles carried me across the threshold of the little cottage we rented after college.
After college, we moved in together, and I got that business-suit-wearing career I’d always dreamed of. Throughout our 20s we worked hard and played hard, enjoying our “kid-free” time. We got married at 26, and agreed to take a few years to soak up married life, getting in as much travel and adventure as possible.
When we were 28, “the plunge” was something we were both ready for. Sure, it wasn’t easy giving up the idea of our carefree life, but together, we were ready for the change and responsibilities that a family involved.
Instead, we got cancer. I say “we” because when I was diagnosed with Stage IV non-smokers lung cancer, I never once felt like I was on my own. This diagnosis affected both of us, and every step was made together. Sure, I was the one with the chemo IV in my arm – but Miles was the one lugging half our house into infusions in order to make me more comfortable: a laptop for movies, earphone splitter so we could laugh at comedies together, pillows and blankets for comfort, water and snacks.
Miles allowed me to focus on my treatments, and on beating this beast, while he took care of literally everything else. He continued to work, but cut back his hours so he could be at every appointment, furiously taking notes and asking questions. He stayed up long after he’d tucked me in – where he guided me through meditation to ask my body to kill the cancer – and would research obscure medical journals from around the globe in search of new treatment options for me.
Only 2 months into treatment, Miles made this doodle for me, depicting my oncologist, Dr. Reckamp, telling me “Emily, you are NED!” At the time, this felt SO far away. A pipe dream. But, Miles believed this was our future; that faith gave me the strength to make it our reality.
He refused to believe the dire predictions of my diagnosis, and shielded me from all the scary statistics. He knew I needed mental peace in order to win this battle, and I trusted him enough not to consult “Dr. Google” on my own. He scheduled second and third opinions, held my hair back as I hugged the toilet bowl, and got me triple chocolate protein shakes when his research showed that I needed to gain some weight before starting chemo. He called those extra pounds my “chemo cushion” and believe me, I wasn’t complaining.
If I was sick, Miles forewent his beloved Steelers football Sundays. If the only thing I was craving was English muffins and applesauce, he’d drop whatever he was doing to go to the store. He made sure our beloved pup, Ginny, was always on hand to snuggle with me on those particularly difficult days. Even though it doesn’t come naturally to him, he accepted the help that family and friends were offering, knowing that it would help him be a better caregiver to me. When we found out I was allergic to the flowers friends were sending, he contacted our amazing support network to thank them, and request that any further gifts be non-floral. He carefully taped each and every get-well card I received onto our dining room walls, creating a wallpaper of hope and encouragement.
I owe the past 3 cancer-free years to my loving husband. He scoffs when I say this, as if his role has been minimal simply because I was the one getting poked and prodded and poisoned. But his role was anything but minimal. He found the surgeon who would operate on me when no one else would, giving me the cure we desperately desired. When radiation knocked me for a loop and I couldn’t get off the couch for months on end, he nursed me back to health, cheering me on as I took each small step toward recovery.
Miles decided, each day, to take some part of the burden off my shoulders. He never gave up hope, even when the odds were so stacked against me. He never hesitated, even when we had no idea what the future held, or what life after treatment might look like. He kept his promise that “cancer would never take one day away from us” by never letting me doubt, and always filling me with hope.
And through it all, he continued doing what he does best: he made me laugh. And for me, that’s all it took.
Before we were even pregnant, Miles surprised me with this shirt for my birthday. I think my grin says it all!
It’s taken a bit longer than we expected, but Miles and I are finally back on track with the life we always imagined. This April, “the plunge” awaits us – as many of you know, we are expecting twin girls via gestational surrogate. I know we are in for a doozie. But, through all the sleepless nights ahead, the midnight feedings, and the new-parent blunders, I have no doubt that Miles will continue doing what he’s always done: he’ll be there, right by my side, for whatever comes our way. And, inevitably, probably even in the middle of an epic double diaper blow-out, he’ll make me laugh. These little girls have no idea how lucky they are – they’ve got the best daddy in the world.
I love you, Miles. So much. Happy Valentine’s Day, baby!