Because I Said So
By Tambre Leighn
I was blessed with an incredible husband and a loving marriage. We invested in each other and our relationship. Together, we made a great team.
A diagnosis changes everything…instantly.
When Gary was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease at age thirty-four, our lives changed forever. Immediately after his diagnosis, I jumped into caregiver mode and I didn’t stop until the day Gary died. I put him first almost every step of the way and ran myself into the ground while doing so.
As his chief researcher, patient advocate, head of transportation, nutritionist, personal Reiki master & reflexologist, chef and appointment scheduler to name a few, I was multi-tasking to the extreme. Once chemo started to take a toll on Gary, I also took over many of the household chores he just didn’t have the energy for. I was doing everything I could to make sure Gary had what he needed to focus on healing.
This was a choice I made and one I would make given the same circumstances again (though I would now make sure I had tools to do this in a more balanced way). I paid a price for how I approached caregiving…and, at one point, the price almost became our marriage.
Cancer breaks us down and walls go up.
Fifteen months after his diagnosis, Gary reached a low point. He hadn’t responded to traditional treatment and the boosts in energy he seemed to get from short-term stays at alternative healing clinics weren’t lasting. Fear, denial, the emotional roller coaster of living with cancer and sheer exhaustion drove us apart. I could barely find the energy to breathe.
I woke up one day wondering how much longer I could keep it up. Suddenly I was facing the thought that perhaps I couldn’t stay…that I’d done and given everything possible and it wasn’t enough. Had I finally reached the moment of sheer survival where it was either me or Gary?
Now I had another choice to make. I could succumb to the panic, overwhelm and natural desire to bolt ~ all typical survival mode responses. Or I could use one of the tools I’d acquired several years before when I completed a powerful personal workshop.
The power of choice.
There was an exercise that essentially taught us the power of choice often is not in having multiple options and getting to choose but in choosing what you already have when you cannot change the circumstances. In their example, you have two bowls of chocolate ice cream and are asked which do you choose.
Most people initially respond that there is no choice because they are the same. They feel like they are without options and it doesn’t matter so they choose neither because they feel they are already being given chocolate.
The shift comes from seeing that when we choose what we already have, we stand in an empowered place.
Almost seven years prior, I had stood before our family and friends at our wedding and chosen Gary. I had given him my word to be there “in sickness and in health.” Walking away from this commitment would be breaking one of the things I value most…something no one else can take from me ~ my vows ~ my word.
When love isn’t enough.
I loved Gary. But sometimes love isn’t enough. Sometimes it is the power of the promise we make to those we love that is the trump card. In that moment, I realized I was going to have to get up each day and choose my marriage instead of leaving. I would choose each day to stay because I said I would.
The beauty of creating shifts within yourself is there is often a ripple effect out into the world around you. Standing in a place of choosing my marriage and to live my word created space for me. The fears and worries suffocating me dissipated.
As this space opened up, it allowed Gary and I to reconnect. Within six weeks of choosing “chocolate” we found each other again and fell back in love. Choosing to commit each day in faith during the hard times opens up this kind of possibility instead of slamming shut a door forever.
Six months later, Gary died. I am so grateful that I had the tools and strength to choose to live my word. I don’t know how I would have lived with myself had I walked away. There are so many moments of loving each other that would never have occurred if I’d stayed stuck in survival mode and remained frozen or, worse, if I had run.
Sometimes what it requires to take what feels like the worst possible situation and turn it around is to live your vows and be your word…because you said you would.
TAMBRE LEIGHN, M.A., Ct.H., CPC, ELI-MP, a certified professional coach, has combined years of study and training in the mind/body connection with her personal experience as a caregiver to her late husband whom she lost to Hodgkin’s Disease to bring you the revolutionary 7 Step i-Thrive! System.
Her transformative approach has opened doors for Tambre to work as a preferred care partner or resource referral with organizations such as Premiere Oncology Foundation, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, American Cancer Society, Thrive/Survive Los Angeles, Young Adult Cancer Canada and Mesothelioma Community Resource Coaching Network.
Tambre is only one of about a half a dozen cancer survivorship coaches in North America trained in the iPEC model and qualified to offer the i-Thrive! Assessment process. Visit Tambre’s website at coachingbytambre.com