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PC Stark - One Year

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tnbc_husband View Drop Down
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    Posted: Aug 01 2014 at 11:00am
One year ago today I lost the love of my life, my Princess and Long Lost Friend.  Our time together was far too short but she changed my life forever and continues to do so today.  Her amazing strength and faith throughout her ordeal with cancer set me upon a journey to find some measure of that for myself.  I’ve found a loving church family and gained a new outlook on life.  But for all that what I really still want to do is to share that with her…to explain what I’ve learned and how I feel, to ask her what she thinks and what it means, to listen to her advice and counsel.  So many questions I wished I’d asked, so much I want to know that she could explain.  I think she would be pleased with what I’ve learned but she would tell me that I have far to go. She would tell me that one day my faith in God would have to replace my faith in her.

Just making it through this first year has been harder than I could have ever imagined or can ever explain.  I realize now that no one can truly understand such a loss.  No one has the same experience.  No one knows what is lost…for me not only my wife but my best friend, my lover, my confidant, my advisor, my therapist, my teacher, my muse, my hero, my comedian, my fan club, my conscience…my everything.  And I realize now that no one understands what we went through together.  As I’ve relived her final month I’ve found I can’t really talk to anyone about what happened.  No one saw her that final month.  No one saw her physical transformation, the change in her voice, the fatigue, the pain, the courage, the faith, the refusal to admit what might be or to talk about what comes after.  But that was what she wanted and I have come to understand why.  Most who knew PC don’t know of the struggles and pain she faced in life.  If they did they would wonder how she became such a joyous, loving person, so full of life and the spirit of God and not a bitter shell, angry at the world.  It had to be her faith in God and it was this faith that sustained her in this last struggle.  She could not risk letting the outward signs of her struggle overshadow her hope and faith and the belief that this was merely a temporary setback like so many other events in her life.

I couldn’t fix her, I couldn’t take away her pain.  In the end I could only do one thing, I could honor what she wanted more than anything: to live every last moment with the faith that she would be healed and restored.  So we would say nothing and do nothing to contradict that hope and faith.  We did that together.  I wish I’d done more for her in our short few years together…listened more, loved more, understood more, shown more patience, been more present.  But I did this one thing right and I have to believe it was enough.

And so she left this world with a dignity that I can only hope to achieve.  And now she shines in a world that I can only imagine.  She is healed and restored.  What she believed would happen has happened, but in God’s time, and we simply are incapable of understanding God’s concept of time.  If I did not believe this my heart would break, I could not go on and I would rather die.  I don’t know the root of PC’s deep faith in God.  I don’t know where it began or how it grew, only that it had to be born out of her struggles.  It is something I never learned for certain and now I never will.  But I know where mine begins.  She isn’t gone forever.  She lives on and her beauty in this lifetime pales with her beauty now.  I can’t prove this but for me to believe otherwise is unthinkable.  It would dishonor all that she was, all that she saw in and wanted for me, and leave me to be that bitter shell, angry at the world, that she refused to become.  So this is my stake in the ground, the root of my faith, a place from which to grow.  And now I finally understand faith for the first time:  

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  (Hebrews 11:1)

I love you PC, and I always will.  You gave me back my life.  You taught me how to live and to love. You saw in me what I couldn’t.  You believed in me when I did not.  I saw a dismal toad and you saw a prince. Thank you for sharing your life with me, the greatest gift I’ve ever received.  I can’t wait to see you again.  Your spirit burns forever in my heart and in my soul.

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." (Isaiah 43:2)

Wife DX:12/11 age 55,IIIB, gr 3, 6x8cm+node, BRCA-, TX:DD neoadj chemo ACT, MX 5/12, 33 rads 6-8/12.

Skin mets 12/12; CMF 1/13; Xeloda/BKM120 4/13; colotectal/abdominal mets 6/13; Hospice 7/13
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123Donna View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 123Donna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 01 2014 at 12:12pm
Such beautiful words!  Thank you for sharing with our family.  I grieve for all the caregivers and what they went through and still go through as they carry the loss in their hearts.  I truly believe when we lose a loved one, they take a piece of our heart with them that we never get back.  Time doesn't heal all wounds, because of the love we've shared and will continue to share through eternity.  

Hugs to you,
Donna
DX IDC TNBC 6/09 age 49, Stage 1,Grade 3, 1.5cm,0/5Nodes,KI-67 48%,BRCA-,6/09bi-mx, recon, T/C X4(9/09)
11/10 Recur IM node, Gem,Carb,Iniparib 12/10,MRI NED 2/11,IMRT Radsx40,CT NED11/13,MRI NED3/15

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Natalie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 02 2014 at 10:28am
Made me cry, I pray your faith continues to grow and your souls meet again.
TNBC stage1 size 1.8, grade3 no nodes 4/11 Lumpectomy 5/11 4cycles DD A/C 4cycles DD Taxol. Double Mastectomy 12/11 BRCA all neg
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jojocat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 03 2014 at 12:52am
She has never left you. The life you shared together are so wonderful, that the last month is near to nothing. The memory is beautiful, isn't it? When you are down, talk about her with us, we promise you, we will listen and understand.
DX 10/24/2013 Between stage 2b and 3a. 2 big nods 1.8cm a d 1.4 cm. tumor 4.5 cm.   35 years old. 11/15/2013. AC/T
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SagePatientAdvocates Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 03 2014 at 9:45am
Dear tnbc_husband,

I, too, want to thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts.

There is something you can do that I would suggest you consider and that is see a bereavement counselor. That professional can help you get through your grief.

I belong to an organization called ADEC...Association for Death Education and Counseling and I can reach out to them to see if they can suggest anyone in the Charlotte area.

I will send you my contact information in case you would like to follow-up with me. I work as a volunteer, so no charge but I imagine the bereavement counselor will have their own charges.

I think it is important that you get some help from a professional and again what you wrote was profoundly beautiful. I am very very sorry for your loss.

with my sincere condolences,

Steve




I am a BRCA1+ grandson, son and father of women affected by breast/oc-my daughter inherited mutation from me, and at 36, was dx 2004 TNBC I am a volunteer patient advocate with SAGE Patient Advocates
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote adele Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Aug 03 2014 at 10:04am
Thank you for sharing , you write beautifully, and it is quite clear what an incredibly beautiful person your partner was. I am pleased that you write that your faith has been strengthened through her. Take good care.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote courtice Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 16 2015 at 9:37am
First of all my condolensces on your loss of your beloved wife. Wow, I feel and know your pain! Like yourself, I am inspired by my wife Sara's example of courage and a faith in something greater than ourselves.

Related to faith, I found a book which may be a helpful read, although I confess that I have yet to purchase it. It sounds very fascinating. It's a book about a French mystic, Elizabeth Leseur, who passed at age 47 from cancer and whose faith in god converted her atheist husband after he read her diaries after she died. On her wikipedia page it says that she died from "generalized" cancer but on other web pages it says that she died from breast cancer.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89lisabeth_Leseur

http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Diary-Elisabeth-Leseur-Goodness/dp/1928832482
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lillie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 17 2015 at 9:30pm
Dear TNBC-husband,
When I read your recent post about your wife's one year death anniversary on August 1, 2014, I wondered how I missed reading about the death of PC Stark. It then dawned on me that my husband died August 2, 2014. We were both in a terrible place at that time. I am so sorry to read of your pain. I think I can understand that pain myself. I had breast cancer almost 9 years ago and thought I would never outlive my husband of 53 years; but I did. I remember Norb sharing his lovely Sara with us when she died. I guess the three of us share the pain of losing someone we dearly loved. Two from TN breast cancer and one from strokes.
Please accept my delayed Sympathy. As I told a friend the other day; it is never too late to express sympathy. Our grief doesn't end in a few days or months. It goes on and on and we all need to hear others acknowledge our loss.

God Bless,
Lillie

Edited by Lillie - Feb 18 2015 at 8:23am
Dx 6/06 age 65,IDC-TNBC
Stage IIb,Gr3,2cm,BRCA-
6/06 L/Mast/w/SNB,1of3 Nodes+
6/06 Axl. 9 nodes-
8/8 thru 11/15 Chemo (Clin-Trial) DD A/Cx4 -- DD taxol+gemzar x4
No Rads.
No RECON - 11/2015-9 yrs NED
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tnbc_husband Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 19 2015 at 11:35pm
I only log in occasionally any more but wanted to respond to a couple of the recent replies here.

Courtice - I ordered the book.  I haven't read it yet but I will.  I have been the recipient of God's grace so many times in the last 2 years that I often fear that I will overlook one of His attempts to get my attention.  I believe that God's grace is all around us but that we frequently fail to notice it or take advantage of it.  Only when we look in the rear view mirror so we realize that we accepted it and took advantage or it or that we missed an opportunity.  Thank you for reaching out to me.  I'm so sorry for the loss of your beloved Sara.  I'm thankful and heartened that she continues to inspire you.

Lillie - One of my most vivid memories is of the day we received the phone call notifying us of the biopsy results confirming that it was back.  I was beside myself but PC consoled me and told me that she would outlive me.  I remember telling her that if she kept this up it would certainly be true because the stress was going to give me heart failure.  I know that what she told me that day came from her heart and she believed it completely.  I'm sorry that you lost your husband and have to continue on alone. I hope that you are comforted that he is with you still.

Steve - I have been in counseling since the week of PC's passing.  I'm making progress but it's a slow road.  I participated in my church's grief support class the month after she passed.  Last year I co-lead the group.  Sometimes we didn't know who was a participant and who was the leader but at least I believe I was authentic.  I will take it over this fall and I'm looking to start an ongoing group at my church.  I am determined to use this experience to help others.  The act of trying to do so is one of the few things that has brought me some peace.
Wife DX:12/11 age 55,IIIB, gr 3, 6x8cm+node, BRCA-, TX:DD neoadj chemo ACT, MX 5/12, 33 rads 6-8/12.

Skin mets 12/12; CMF 1/13; Xeloda/BKM120 4/13; colotectal/abdominal mets 6/13; Hospice 7/13
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SagePatientAdvocates Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Apr 20 2015 at 12:01am
Dear tnbc_husband,

Somehow I think we are cut from the same cloth.

The main drivers in my patient advocacy work have been the death of my mother (at age 46), when I was 20, some 51 years ago  and my daughter's diagnosis (at age 36), of TNBC, ten years ago. I rejoice in the fact that my daughter is NED and healthy. 

I decided to reach out and try to help some folks as they are fighting this TN beast. And you have reached out as well through your church support group. It is truly beautiful work that you are doing. I admire what you have done and what you are doing.

Also, the work I devote my life to and your efforts are not for everyone. I think we both have a 'calling' to do what we do and we both feel blessed to be able to do it. 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us..The word you used...authentic...is perfect. 

with my sincere condolences, again,

Steve
I am a BRCA1+ grandson, son and father of women affected by breast/oc-my daughter inherited mutation from me, and at 36, was dx 2004 TNBC I am a volunteer patient advocate with SAGE Patient Advocates
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