Force Fed Grief

Over the last four and half years, I have come to notice a silence before the good bye. I have seen it many times documented through formal blogs, tweeting, or Facebook timelines.  Some go silent to focus on those closest to them, others are held back by whatever physical and mental impediments cancer has created in their bodies, and many just don’t want to walk the final days publicly.

Metastatic young adults and their families are force fed grief.  Whether they want to deal with it or not.  Some are fortunate enough to push against the odds and live full lives through the adversity of treatments, side effects, and scans.  Metastatic cancer can claim you quickly or occasionally be tamed and tricked into giving you more time.

A year ago this coming December, we were told that cancer was winning and Anna’s time was up.  A sudden sense of urgency forced us to plan small and large good bye parties. We researched and carefully crafted our conversations with the kids about Anna’s death.  We had seen cancer’s quick execution of others, often leaving no time to prepare. This time was important to us.

To say that I am grateful for this extra time we have had is both an understatement and untrue.  The last 11 months have been the hardest our family has had to face; often dark, emotional, and scary.  The cancer in Anna’s brain has stolen her abilities to read, remember, and write.  The 30+ pills a day that keep her alive, slowly rot her body.  Her hands shake, she often moves from a twelve hour sleep to a 3 hour nap on the couch.  The fatigue is endless. The recent grand-mal seizures are just another reminder how little control we have on this journey.

Through all this adversity.  Anna has managed to channel her anxiety and fear of her eventual death into creating art and being present with her family.  With all she deals with on a daily basis, she finds ways to be productive and chip away at living as full a life as possible in the time she has left.  I will forever be grateful for her drive,  deep character, and non compliance.  She does things differently; always has and always will.

To all the people who have jumped further into our lives offering support and care, you bring hope and calm to an otherwise impossible situation.  Thank you.

It is difficult for me to write updates.  If you want to reach out, please feel free to email me at  I will do my best to respond quickly.

11 replies »

  1. “To say that I am grateful for this extra time we have had is both an understatement and untrue.”
    This sentence rings so true for me….I can feel the love, and the torture, in this statement. ❤ to you guys…

    • Yes, this sentence is so true and so impossibly to understand for someone who has not experienced cancer with someone close to them.

      When a friend’s father suddenly died, I tried to give her my perspective. My Mom’s first diagnoses was stage IV and doctors initially thought she had weeks left. With emergency surgery on the spine (bone metastases), radiation and hormonal therapy, she has now almost made 2 years. Recently, the cancer has grown again.

      When my mother recovered better than we could have hoped for from the spinal surgery, and leads an almost normal life now, it is so difficult to have third persons understand it.

      So much gratefulness for these two years; and yet these two years are not two years as they were before. The question is when, not if. And this constant fear of “when” and “how long” is like a constant weight compressing the chest. When I want to describe the Feeling, I think of the painting the nightmare (“Le Cauchemar”) by Johann Heinrich Fussli – an invisible demon sitting on the chest.

      From time to time, the thought comes – “how long will I have to have this Feeling?” It is a terrible thought, because on the other hand the thought of losing someone Close to you seems so much more unbearable than continue living compressed.

  2. My prayers will continue to enfold Anna and the ones who love her. I can’t imagine all that has been going on these past eleven months when I last read her blog. I am so grateful to you for posting what is going on in your lives. Thank you so much.

  3. Please remember the profound effect Anna’s journey has had, and continues to have on the silent majority out here in cyberspace. We all have such a tremendous amount of love and respect for your wife. What truly amazing and generous people you are – you and Anna and her family. Thank-you for taking the time to let us know about Anna’s current situation. And for sharing your own personal grief. In return we are nothing but broken hearted at the sheer cruelty of life. Anna deserves nothing but the best. These days I know she’s being attended by the best.

  4. My heart is breaking for you. I have followed this blog and have you and Anna and your kids in my thoughts and prayers. Sending you love and light from cyberspace. Thank you for sharing this update.

  5. I have followed Anna’s blog for quite some time now. Her words have resonated deeply, as do yours. Thank you for taking the time to share them. Thinking of you all. ❤

  6. Susan Walton has said it well. Ditto. The emptiness of death is not the dying it is the absence. I will never forget your courage in your wisdom to document your journey. Thank you.

  7. Hi Anna,

    Healthline would like to congratulate you on making our list of the Best Metastatic Breast Cancer Blogs of 2017!

    Our editors carefully selected the most up-to-date, informative, and inspiring blogs that aim to uplift their readers through education and personal stories. We’re glad to have you on the list!

    We’ve created a badge that you can embed on your site to let your readers know about your win. The embed code is at the link below.

    Winners list:
    Badge to embed:

    If you have any questions or need help embedding the badge, feel free to be in touch. Congratulations and keep up the great blogging!


    Maegan Jones | Content Coordinator
    Your most trusted ally in pursuit of health and well-being

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