Springtime Reflections on Love

If you live anywhere near Chicago, you know it’s been a long cold winter. We huddled into our apartment and watched lots of movies, played games, and generally enjoyed ourselves making plans for what we would do when the weather finally turned warm.

Lucky for us, about the time we couldn’t stand the cold any longer, it was time for us to take our vacation to Myrtle Beach. In April, we first travelled to my cousin’s wedding in Nashville TN, which took place at the beautiful Belmont Mansion. After a weekend celebrating and enjoying time with family, we continued our trip down to South Carolina where we spent a wonderful week in the sun. It was our first trip to the area and we enjoyed our time on the beach, as well as exploring the small fishing villages and communities surrounding it.

One place we discovered that I especially loved was the Brookgreen Gardens near Murrell’s Inlet. This beautiful gardens, zoo, and low-country plantation was left to the state by its founders Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. It was the winter home of this famous couple from the late 1920’s-1940’s. Beyond being beautiful, we also learned of the special marriage between this couple, one that was filled with great love for each other, and philanthropy for others. It was evident that Archer had a deep love for Anna, as this winer home was built by him for her, to help with her tuberculosis diagnosis, of which she lived with for years. I immediately purchased a biography about the couple upon our return home.

This couple seems special to me, as Archer’s love for his wife is so apparent. He met her and married her after she was already a world-renowned artist, and never belittled her career. Instead he strongly encouraged her to follow all her interests and to continue to make art. When she was diagnosed with TB shortly into their marriage, it didn’t scare him off – instead it reinforced him as a steadfast and committed husband. Treatments available at the time were few and far between, and often required long periods of stay at sanitariums that were at higher altitudes or warmer locations. He never complained or wavered in his love, and he continued to provide care for her in whatever way possible throughout the remainder of his life. He willingly uprooted his life to move her to various locations around the world to help treat her condition. They did this regularly, and they approached it with a sense of adventure.

Their story is endearing, and resonates strongly with me. Brian and I were married less than two years at the time of my diagnosis (and I was certainly experiencing symptoms of the disease from the time we met). I once read that cancer can either bring a marriage together or tear it apart. And what an unfortunate thing it must be if it is the latter. I am blessed to have Brian, who has never wavered in his love for me, or his commitment to care for me. And for that, I will always be thankful.

Certainly we have fears about what may lie ahead, but instead of dreading these challenges – we shift our focus to living life fully and seeking out new experiences in the meantime. Brian continues to encourage me to chase my dreams. And hopefully, we’ll have many years ahead of us to do just that.

And on that note, I’m very happy to share that my most recent doctor’s visit was a very good one. We reviewed my recent MRI, which shows that now (nearly 15 mths after my surgery) my liver is looking very good, with no new tumors. Additionally, my CgA (bloodmarker) is that of a completely healthy person’s. My other labs are looking great as well. I currently experience very few symptoms related to Carcinoid, and at times will go several days or weeks without any symptoms at all. This is by far the BEST medical report I’ve had since my diagnosis, and is likely the closest I will come to saying I am in “remission”. It only took 7 years to get there, but I’m happy that I’m finally where I’m at right at this moment, and hope that I can make it last for a long time to come.

“To love and be loved, is to feel the sun from both sides.” — David Viscott, 1974