The past few months have been hard. I’m going to take away from the hell that my wife’s been through as she took the brunt of it. She’s the one with the serious illness and I’m just the bystander. I didn’t have daily rounds of radiotherapy and weekly chemo. I didn’t spend over a week in hospital.
I had to beat cancer too
Accepting that her cancer has taken a toll on me is hard. Sometimes it feels like I’m a fraud or a fake. Sure, I’m exhausted physically and emotionally, but I’ve not had to endure the disease or its treatment. All I’ve done is look after her, take her to hospital each day and tried to maintain a sense of normality in our home.
Overwhelmed by feelings of being lost
The plan had been to depart for Japan at the start of 2019. Instead, I drove her to the chemo suite as I did every week. My UK work had come to an end in October and I was working on building whatever came next. That stopped as soon as the diagnosis hit. Then it was all hands to the pump to give Takako exactly what she needed to get through this.
Now the treatment is over and I’m staring at a laptop screen wondering what the hell to do next. Plans are in tatters. We’re eating into the contingency that was put in place to give us breathing space for our arrival in Japan. Instead of a home that we own looking over the mountains of Kobe, we’re in a rented flat in Watford with Velux windows that’s occasionally claustrophobic.
Worse, my own health has had a bit of a tumble. So now Takako’s looking after me while the antibiotics do their best and I hope this lump isn’t the start of my own journey into long-term treatment.
I need to recover too
What I need is a period of recovery. A week or two to allow myself to be exhausted and irritable. A time where I can focus on something purely for me. Creativity purely for the sake of it. Some time in a studio or prowling the streets of London looking for photo opportunities. Something out of the flat and away from the daily routine we had to create for ourselves.
But I’m also aware that I have to focus on getting plans back on track. I can’t think about the should-have-could-have-would-have of our plans; instead I have to think of the here-and-now. The business I’m building will be the same one, albeit located in the UK rather than Japan. Takako will still help with her part of the company, just from a flat in Watford and not a house in Kobe. The approach will be different, the costs higher, the aim the same.
If there’s one piece of advice I would offer to someone whose partner had cancer treatment while they’re trying to build a business, it’s this: don’t dive straight back in after treatment has ended. You might not know it yet, but you’re exhausted too, and you need to give yourself some time to recover.