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Meet...Brighty

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Please take a moment to better to get to know a caregiver on our site Brighty. You will recognize her from the warm welcomes she provides in our community.
 

Summary of experience: 
The year 2017 was supposed to be the happiest of my life. I was newly engaged with the love of my life, and the wedding was planned, paid for and all set to go for October 29th, 2017.   Little did I know what was waiting around the corner. During my March Break, 2017, my fiancé, his daughter and I went on vacation to Mexico.  It was there that my fiancé experienced some symptoms. He began to throw up after each meal and could not keep anything down. We chalked it up to bird flu he might have picked up on the trip, and didn't take it seriously. The symptoms persisted over the next few months, hiccups, heartburn, and regurgitation of food. I begged him to go to the doctor, but he refused. Months would go by when he finally gave in to my nagging and decided to get it checked out. He had been living on Ensure for months and kept it from me. It would be pneumonia that finally got him into emergency and he told the emergency doctor his symptoms. They could not understand why he waited months to go to the hospital. My fiancé hated doctors and dentists and didn't even have an up to date health card. The emergency doctor sent him for an Endoscopy and two weeks later the results were in. He had Esophageal cancer. It never occurred to me that someone at age 42 could be diagnosed with cancer. He was a heavy smoker and drinker and much damage was done to his body over the years. When he told me the results, my entire world crumbled right before me. Life would never be the same again.........................
 
Anyways, my new life and my new role as caregiver was about to begin, and I had no idea what to expect. Gone were the wedding plans, showers, bachelorette parties we were so excited about. In it's place it was hospitals, doctors, scans, treatments and the feeding tube. Treatment began in July 2017. It was 5 days per week of radiation and once a week of chemo. Since could get nothing down orally, a feeding tube was put in for him to get some nourishment. Back and forth, to and from the hospital we went, day after day. All the while, he continued to smoke and drink.   He smoked before going into chemo, after chemo, and went straight to the liquor store after radiation. Nothing I could say or do was going to change this. As the weeks went by, he became weaker, thinner and sicker and could keep nothing down by mouth. It killed me to watch him deteriorate and all I could do was helplessly watch by the sidelines and cry. And boy did I cry. I cried oceans and oceans of tears for him, for myself and for what was and what never would be again.        
 
After the 5 weeks of treatment were complete, another PET scan was done to check the status of the cancer. It was revealed that the cancer had now spread to the lymph node and was now at stage 4. Months would go by when we were waiting in limbo to see what the next step would be or what could be done. My fiancé met with a surgeon who refused to do the surgery. He said that the surgery was way too risky and there was nothing that could be done. We fired him and met with another surgeon at another hospital who said my fiancé was a good candidate for this operation, although it was a huge risk. He said it would be next to impossible to get the infected lymph nodes out, based on the location. But there was no choice at that point and he was booked for the big operation on December 5, 2017. December 5th 2017, the operation was performed. Instead of being in ICU for a few days, my fiancé was in ICU for almost 6 weeks. Complications arose, pneumonia developed, his lungs were weak and it was touch and go for weeks. We didn't think he would ever make it out of the hospital. But a miracle happened. He recovered, the infected lymph nodes were removed, and he was deemed cancer free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thought the ordeal was over???? Far from it!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
 
 As soon as my fiancé could get out of ICU he would get his hands on more cigarettes and began the addiction all over again. For a few months there after the surgery, he was able to eat again. I was so happy. I thought he was on the road to recovery and we could soon reschedule our wedding. This was not to be. The smoking and drinking were two addictions he could not kick, even with a stage 4 cancer diagnoses and a second chance at life. The habits consumed him, and no matter what anyone said or did, he could not stop. He began to deteriorate once again. He lost a ton of weight and got weaker and weaker. Then one fateful day in June 2018 I would come home from work to my worst nightmare. He was unconscious on my bed. I called paramedics, but it was too late. He had been without oxygen for almost an hour. He was taken off life support on June 21st, 2018 and that was the end of all my hopes and dreams for the future.  

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 What is your current status?    
I am now in a grief counselling group going into my 5th week. I'm doing mostly ok now, although I still have some rough days. I am also now a community mentor on Cancer Connection. I want to give back to the amazing people on this site who helped me get through the worst nightmare of my life.       
 
 What you want everyone to know about having cancer:
Cancer does not discriminate age. Just because you are young doesn't mean you are immune to it. It strikes at any age. If you have unusual symptoms in your body, have them checked out! Don't wait months and months to go to a doctor. Pay attention to your body. Listen to your doctor and follow his/her instructions.      
 

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 Words of wisdom:     
These were things I learned along the road... either by reading other caregivers experiences, or by learning as I went along. Never think self care is selfish. It is essential to survival. Caregivers matter too, and cancer affects not only the patient, but the whole family. Never be shy to ask for help if you need it. Lean on people for support, take breaks, keep routines, exercise, treat yourself, talk to a therapist if need be and don't isolate. We are not an island, we need people to help us get through.   
 
My main supporters:
My main supports were my family. Whenever I cried or had panic attacks, I would call my parents. They would come running to be by my side and wipe away my tears. My brother's dog, Brighty would lick away my tears..When I was in the depths of despair, my brother bought me a sweet chubby cuddly cat named Vinnie. He is my best friend and sleeps beside me every night. And I cannot forget the members on this site who helped and supported me through a horrible time.
 
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 Hobbies: 
 I enjoy swimming and watching trashy tv. shows. The swimming helps to work off the anxiety, and the trashy shows get my mind off of all the bad stuff that was going on in my life. How has life changed? Well, life did not go the way I planned it. It doesn't always go smoothly as planned. After this experience my life has forever changed. I will no longer take anything for granted. I will enjoy whatever life has to offer and life more in the moment. The past, we cannot change. The future we don't always have control over, but all we have is the here and now, so enjoy it and live it to the fullest.      
 
How has being a member on CancerConnection helped?
The support and the wonderful people I have met on this site is what helped me get through this horrible time in my life. I wanted to give back to the people who helped me so much, so I'm paying it forward. The friends I made on this site are going to be friends for life. You mean the world to me.    
 
If you could choose a Super Power what would it be?  
 I wish I could turn back time and make it so this never happened but it did, and I'm stronger for it. It's time to move forward now and find out what lies ahead of me. For the first time in a long time, I'm starting to see a light at the end of this dark horrible tunnel.         
 
 Thank you so much Brighty for taking the time to share more about your experience with us.
      
 
 
 
 

 




Comments

Dear Brighty‍  
Thank you for sharing your story of how you came to be on this forum. Wow, you went through so much in such a short time. I hope your future holds many joyful times.

Your Vinney is a handsome kitty. So glad you have him to keep you company.

Hugs
Judy
  • Posted Sat 27 Jun 2020 06:20 PM EDT
Thanks so much VioletFlower‍ ! Vinnie  is so handsome eh?   How is your son doing with treatment?    
  • Posted Sat 27 Jun 2020 06:31 PM EDT
Hi Brighty

Awwwwww, your whole story is so sad.  I understand your frustration with Dan not being able or willing to give up his smokes or his booze.  However, I more than understand that he likely felt that was the only thing he could still control and/or enjoy.  I've never been much of a drinker but I was a long-time smoker and no one could get me to give it up until I personally was ready.  And you can't even imagine what finally had me flip the switch.  I  had bought a brand new winter coat (dropped a bundle) and I dropped a smoke in my lap while driving my car, burnt the coat and that was it!  I stopped, however I scored I'd never be a "reformed " x-smoker, I totally understand its insane hold on people, its an addiction that goes beyond that of many drugs.
You are so right about the long reaching affects cancer has on every and anyone involved.  The saddest thing of everything you wrote was for them to have told him he was go to go when in fact he was not.  So sad for both of you.  And I can't say how sorry I was to read that you found him and he didn't make it.  The positive side was to hear that you had family that was there for you when you needed it and no doubt still are.  Good for you that you felt good about paying it forward because you know I'm one person that so appreciates having got many kind words back from you.  A now permanent new friend, Ruth

 
  • Posted Sat 27 Jun 2020 03:29 PM EDT
Awww thank your vic777‍ ! I feel very lucky  to have you as a friend too.    
  • Posted Sat 27 Jun 2020 03:39 PM EDT
Brighty‍  hi, I have been watching your story since the beginning and have to say I am so proud if you and how you have evolved. You have had so many ups and downs but still manage to help others.  You are an inspiration to me and I look forward to seeing your posts.  

Lauren55


 
  • Posted Thu 05 Mar 2020 10:23 AM EST
Awww Lauren55‍  that is very kind of you!!! Thank you so much! It has been great having you in our community!  
  • Posted Thu 05 Mar 2020 10:47 AM EST
What a powerful and tragic story.  I wish you much healing and happiness.

Catherine
  • Posted Wed 04 Mar 2020 08:27 AM EST
Thank you Dobergurl‍!  How are you doing?  
  • Posted Wed 04 Mar 2020 10:47 AM EST
Hello Brighty‍   love your dog! very handsome little fellow! (I presume Vinny is a guys name?) Thank you for sharing your amazing story! Now that I have read it I can only say your user name here sure fits! One of the dangers we all face with our grieving is that we can get so preoccupied by mourning the ones no longer with us that we stop caring about the living, who are with us. Your story shows the incredible opposite of that. Now, here you are, helping to encourage others as they try to navigate their own very difficult journeys with cancer/and or care giving. You really could write a book!
  • Posted Tue 03 Mar 2020 10:12 PM EST
CentralAB‍  thank you!!!  Brighty is my brother's  dog and is a bright light in the family.  We all adore him.  Vinine  is my boy kitty who I adopted when he was 6.    His name was already  Vinnie  when I got him.     He responds  well to it.   Anyway you are one heck of a special  guy yourself!  I learn much from you and your posts.     
  • Posted Tue 03 Mar 2020 10:21 PM EST

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