Married Life Has Been Hard. Oh, And I Have Cancer.


Hey. It’s been a while. That’s the thing about a humour blog. It takes a really long time to find a clever, witty line to put after I have cancer and it’s one of the worst possible kinds. And boy, are my arms tired!

See what I mean?

But here I am just the same, even if I haven’t been able to find the funny lately. You see, a few weeks ago a friend of mine posted a question on my Facebook timeline asking how married life was treating me. The answer is just too complicated for a status update.

For those not in the know, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August, 2014. I had surgery to remove the tumor, as well as a third of my pancreas, part of my intestines and my gall bladder. This was followed up by preventative chemotherapy and in January 2015, my CT scan showed no sign of cancer. This past May, though, a follow-up scan showed that the pancreatic cancer was back and had metastasized in my liver.

The treatment would be a very strong chemotherapy and my oncologist suggested we start it in June, giving me a month to get myself as physically and mentally strong as possible because – and I quote – this kind of chemo would absolutely kick my ass.

Jepeto and I quickly decided to make the most of that month. We booked my dream vacation to Paris and made plans to get married. And it was fabulous. Jepeto’s aunt even surprised us by arranging a symbolic wedding at a lovely historic hilltop church near the family home in the French countryside. We had our official ceremony when we returned.

Unfortunately not long after the wedding, I started chemo and it did indeed kick my ass. So married life turned out to be quite a challenge and – surprisingly – it wasn’t even remotely Jepeto’s fault. How weird is that, right?

I started throwing up roughly 4 hours into the first chemo treatment, called Fulfirinox. I continued to throw up every couple of hours for the next 20 hours even after my nurse stopped the chemo and started pumping me full of anti-nausea medication. I spent two days in hospital where the entire oncology department came to the unanimous agreement that 1) they had never collectively seen anyone (ever, anywhere) react that badly to this type of chemo and 2) I would need a different chemo cocktail.

Thankfully, Jepeto has a government job and great health insurance coverage. Abraxane, the new cocktail of choice, is not approved for my type of cancer by the Quebec government – regardless of what oncologists worldwide believe, not to mention Health Canada – so Quebec hospitals are not allowed to give it to patients like me. However, private clinics are. But that requires approval by our insurance company since it would have to cover the cost of the clinic and the medication.

We had to wait for the approval and then the subsequent coordination of private clinic and hospital visits (because after the Abraxane, I would need to get another type of chemo called Gemzar at the hospital and all of this needs to happen on the same day). It took a couple of months. While we waited, I was given “bridging” treatments of Folfox once every two weeks.

Folfox has a huge list of side effects: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, hard time breathing or swallowing when exposed to cold air or substances (food, drink, etc), loss of appetite, taste changes, weight loss, fatigue, hair loss, weakness and tingling in the hands and feet. Needless to say, I had all of them.

The most problematic was the weight loss. After my first dose, I dropped from 116 to 105 lbs. I was warned that if I dropped more weight, I couldn’t keep up the treatments. After each subsequent dose, I would drop to 97 lbs. Which left me with a week and a half to get myself back up to 105 lbs. It was a constant struggle, but somehow I managed to get close enough each time to continue.

On top of everything, the anti-nausea medicine I was prescribed had to be taken with steroids and – combined with my wonky half pancreas – as a result, I developed diabetes.

Finally three weeks ago, I was able to start the Abraxane/Gemzar schedule. The difference was instantly noticeable. I didn’t drop a single pound. I had more energy. I COULD EAT ICE CREAM!!!!! I gained weight. Everything was better. Everything is better. I’m even starting to visit Facebook again.

So as we approach our third month anniversary, I can say that married life has sucked because of cancer and chemotherapy. But I can also say that Jepeto is the perfect husband – now there are words I never thought I’d string together! –  and I could not have gotten through all of this without him.

Jepeto took a leave of absence from work and spent the last three months taking care of me day and night. He’s learned to give me my daily insulin injections as well as the white blood cell booster I need on a regular basis. He took care of our kids, the house, finances, errands, cooking, cleaning… all while making sure that all my needs were met.

A friend once asked me what originally attracted me to Jepeto. I told him this story:

Jepeto and I met at work. In a building with over 1000 employees, there were plenty of couples working together. When we started dating, he told me in no uncertain terms that we would not be one of “those” couples, walking hand in hand around the office. They were ridiculous, he mocked. Living together and working together and then they had to walk around holding hands like they couldn’t live without each other. Pffft! Never having been much of a clingy type, I had no problem with that. And on Monday morning when we walked into the office, he held my hand.

Ten years later, he’s still holding it. When I couldn’t stop throwing up, he held my hand and told me it would be okay. When I had such painful stomach cramps that left me in the fetal position a crying, shaking mess, he held my hand and got me through it. When I cried in the middle of Dairy Queen after eating my first ice cream in months, he held my hand and hugged me. And when my hair fell out in clumps and I had to shave it off, he held my hand and told me I was beautiful.

Married life has been hard but as long as my husband holds my hand, I know I’ll be okay.

holding hands

49 thoughts on “Married Life Has Been Hard. Oh, And I Have Cancer.

  1. Nicky, you’re going to kick Cancer’s ass. I know it… I’m so happy you’re doing better. How could you not be with Jepeto holding your hand. Thank you for letting us know how you were doing. This was not your typical love story but, pardon the expression, it kicks ass! Enjoy your ice cream.


  2. Wow, Nicky, I had no idea, and I am at a total loss for words. My heart goes out to you and Jepeto. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. I am glad you are doing better with the new treatment, and that you have a wonderful husband holding your hand and telling you it will be okay. I imagine this was difficult to write…thanks for letting us know. Hugs!!!!


  3. Nicky, I am so sorry about your illness. I will keep you in my prayers. I’m happy that you are feeling better and your married life sounds perfect. Thank God for good husbands.


  4. Nicky, you will not only kick cancer’s ass, you will do it with stylish stiletto heels!

    Was wondering what you were up to and am sorry to hear it’s been this – except for the wedding part – that part is awesome! Don’t tell J.P., but he’s awesome too…

    Sending positive healing thoughts to the soon to be frozen North! Xoxoxo


    1. Yeah I would much rather have been on a beach int the south of France but what can you do? Sometimes life hands you lemons and you’re just stuck holding lemons. At least I have Jepeto (more words I never thought I’d string together!)


  5. Nicky, I am awed and somewhat speechless. How is it I mention you to Mike and you surface on Fb and link to this? You’ve made my day, and I am so sending wamie wamies your way for born again hardness as in Parris Island Stanley Kubrick hard. Kill dat mofo yo.


  6. Nicky, Nicky, Nicky. I was stunned reading this post. I know you’ll say I was stunned before I read it. So be it. I am so sorry to hear what you’ve had to go through. Having been there myself I know what it’s like. No one should have to experience it. You are so very lucky to have a supportive and understanding spouse. I have one too and I know what that’s like. Please keep me posted on how things are going. I know you’ll beat this thing.


  7. Oh God, Nicky. I’m so sorry. I will pray for you — I’d like to say in both English and French, but sadly my French consists of a few lines from Frère Jacques and wouldn’t be of much use. But seriously, beat this thing. Beat it until it cries for mercy.


  8. For Nicky ~ You are as courageous as Athena, your Love story as fine as rare Camembert. Sending all of you endless beams of harmonic, healing, green energy! With Love, David Magee (McCormack friend).


  9. Nicky — I’m stunned that I didn’t know all this. And I’m sorry for your great burden. At the same time I’m glad that you have such a supportive husband. Not everyone has a spouse who would be there for them in the way yours has. Sending good vibes and prayers your way, my dear.


  10. Oh hell, Nicky. I thought you’d kicked cancer to the curb the first time around. I’m so damn sorry that you’re having to deal with all the bullshit bureaucracy while fighting this thing. Sending my best thoughts your way. I’m so grateful you’ve got Jepeto by your side and hanging onto you tightly.


    1. I thought I had crushed it under my stilettos too, Cheryl, but no such luck. Thankfully, Jepeto handles all the bureaucracy along with everything else so all I do is focus on getting better.


  11. Nicky, I am so sorry to hear this; my mouth is hanging open in disbelief. I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers although it sounds like God has already sent you an angel in Jepeto.


    1. Thanks Nora! I got your DM on Facebook and have been meaning to write you back but unfortunately, the new treatment still leaves me with ‘chemo brain’ which means I forget that I meant to answer you and then remember when I’m not home, or in the shower, or sleeping… I’ve missed all of you too and I’m really glad to be able to check in more often.


      1. Don’t worry about it! I know what it is to be really sick. You know where to find me whenever you’re ready to. I’ll be around and looking forward to “shooting the shit” with you when you’re up for it!


  12. You have been on my mind too. Not seeing any of your posts is like having a friend leave without saying Goodbye. NOT that you are going anywhere – we will, by hook or by crook, manage to wish you well (with prayers thrown in for good measure).
    Late congrats to you and Jepeto. Muya!


      1. Thank you Tami, I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas and all the best for the new year. Please feel free to send me a friend request on Facebook (Nicky Eff) or you can always email me at nicky at we workforcheese dot com.


  13. I love you, gorgeous. I’m extremely happy you have Jepeto beside you to hold your hand through all of this. That said, I still think you should’ve married me instead. I was getting ready to divorce M and take all his money so you and I could live in Greece together.


  14. Nicky, even though we’ve never met face-to-face, and even though we only connect occasionally online, I just wanted you to know that you’re one of my favorite people ever.

    This blog entry is so devastating, and yet so beautifully written. I’m glad you have somebody like Jepeto in your life who can bring you so much comfort, hope, and love. We all love you, Nicky. You know this.


    1. Thank you so much Kevin. I am taken aback… one of your favourite people even after the writing challenges?! 🙂
      I am blessed to have Jepeto and so many other wonderfully supportive people in life. In my real life and my virtual one. I adore all of you beyond words.


  15. If I find out this whole story is just a clever ploy to simultaneously win 30 Days of Writing 17 and 30 Days of Photographs 25, it won’t just be cancer trying to kick your ass, it’ll be me.

    Now, scoot over and hand me your spoon. I want some ice cream, too.


  16. I haven’t spent much time in the blogosphere lately and just now saw your post on Paula’s feed. This sucks the king of all giant moose cocks. My heart breaks for all you’ve gone through. On a list of who does not deserve this shit you, my sweet friend, are right at the top. If love can affect a cure than you’ve got this beat because you have a world of people sending you their love right now. Throwing virtual arms around you and holding you close, Nicky. And I take back everything bad I’ve ever said about porn-star guy.


    1. Hey Jayne, thank you and how wonderful to see that photo of us… and my hair! It’s positive thoughts and memories like this one that keep me going. Porn star guy sends his love and is thrilled to know the nickname still stands. 😃


  17. you know the one story I keep telling Kevin is the time I told my mom I was going to a party at your house and we all partied at the Snake Pit and then I had to call my mom to pick me up at CPHS because I had missed the last bus from your house and walked over to the school in hopes to catch the last bus there but missed that one too, she never did give me shit for that but certainly wasn’t please LOL Oh and the Denmark stories LOL Love you girl!


  18. Ah Nicky, I am so very sorry to hear the news. I was glad to see you rocking those red high heels on Facebook, until I read a little further and found out that you’ll be wearing them to chemo. My heart aches for you and the struggle that you’ve been going through with treatment. One thing I know…you have an incredible attitude and great sense of humor, both will help you through. Jepeto seems like an amazing man and I’m glad you picked such a beautiful soul to be by your side. I’ll be sending all sorts of healing thoughts your way and will check in (if that’s okay.) Hang tough. xoxo Annie


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