Married with cancer

My Life with Breast Cancer

Today is my 4th wedding anniversary! I can’t believe it is already 4 years, I honestly don’t know where the time has gone. It was a magical day and like any bride, I would love to go back and do the day all over again as it was practically perfect – however, it wasn’t 100% perfect and that was because we received the breast cancer diagnosis several months after we had started planning our wedding. Almost everything was booked and we had people flying in from all over the world - including ourselves as the wedding was taking place in the garden of my family home in Wales and we live in Switzerland - so we decided to go ahead with the wedding rather than to postpone. The decision was reasonably difficult because from a health perspective we weren’t sure if I would have the energy to finish the planning nor to cope with the wedding itself, in fact I only finished chemo 3 weeks before the wedding and I was extremely tired! But also, I just didn’t want to be bald in my wedding photos! I had always envisaged wearing my hair up and the dress I bought lent itself to an up style. I had a fantastic wig, so in the end, even though my look wasn’t exactly what I had always dreamed of, I think all things considered, I pulled it off fairly well and it was just the most amazing day and a huge amount of fun! I suppose there were some positives, time saving for example - the hairdresser could style my wig on a wig stand while I was having my make up done!

Of course, the wedding day is just a day. We were entering into a marriage for the rest of our lives. I always knew that my husband was an amazing man, I wouldn’t have been marrying him otherwise! The way that he stood by me and supported me during the diagnosis and the treatment was second to none. I think people often forget how such a diagnosis affects the people around you. I realise that being in a loving and committed relationship doesn’t necessarily mean being married but for me, the commitment of marriage was extremely important. It was really at this point that I came to understand that it wasn’t just my life that had been changed forever. I had lost parts of body, I had lost my fertility, I was a bald bride and I was living with the fear that my life could be cut short. My husband had also lost the future that he had dreamed of. I can’t imagine the weight he must carry on his shoulders everyday knowing the seriousness of the illness that his wife has. He lost his chance to be a father and we had both very much wanted to have children. Most importantly, he was marrying someone with the full knowledge that there is every possibility we won’t grow old together. So many people have said to me, nothing in life is certain, any one of us could get hit by a car tomorrow. It is absolutely not the same thing.

His decision to marry me knowing all of this is nothing but a testament to his strength of character, to what a good man and loving man he is. He told me, “but I love you and it changes nothing for me, I would rather be with you with no children than to have a family with someone else.” How lucky am I? I know that a lot of women lose their partners after such a diagnosis. They are treated appallingly by weak men who didn’t deserve them in the first place and here I am, knowing with full certainty that I have a rock by my side, my reason to live and my determination to grow old together. He gave up the future he envisaged to be with me and that is something that I will never be able to repay him, so all I can do is make sure I give him the best relationship that I can. So to my husband, happy anniversary, I love you!

This year, I am recovering from the effects of radiotherapy treatment, last year I had just had some corrective surgery on my reconstructed breast. We had gone out to a fancy restaurant but I was still in drains. I was able to hide them with one of our gorgeous drain bags!! We have added three new designs to our range, Spotty Pink, Flower Power and Manchester Dolly and the Sausage Dogs are back in stock! Click the link to check out the new styles!

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Zoe Zenklusen Payne