I came to truly understand what the 19th Century Proverb ‘Home is where your heart is’ really means this week. It was a profound experience which I feel compelled to share.
Following our wedding last year, my husband and I created our nest in an apartment on the beach in Hollywood, Florida. We have breath-taking views of the beach, the ocean, infinity pools to swim and exercise in and a gym that overlooks all of the above. Ever since we have been living the life of my dreams I pinch myself each day, feeling overwhelming grateful to have such an amazing husband and an enviable lifestyle. Fast forward a week, now, in my surreal existence, I am looking for an apartment in New York City, based at a hospital by my husband’s bedside, hearing stories from his roommate about his experience at 911; facing a long cold winter.
I spend a good deal of my life helping women to manage thermal issues like night sweats at the time of their menopause, but I was somewhat taken aback when my husband Ben began experiencing them. At first, we thought the drenching sweats may be related to a fever but he didn’t feel hot or chilled. He had had some wacky blood results which required him having a transfusion as his haemoglobin was so low. The haematologist thought it might be related to nutritional deficiencies (of all things) caused by a drug he had been taking for arthritis called Enbrel.
Following a bone marrow biopsy, however, we were given the diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia which left us reeling from shock. It had a sense of unreality, like a nightmare you hope you wake up from and realise it was only a dream. But that was wishful thinking.
Within the space of a few days, we had made the family decision to fly Ben from Florida to New York so that he could be cared for by some of the best experts on the planet at Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre. As Ben couldn’t fly on a commercial airline due to his low immunity, we were fortunate enough to get a ride on the Hertz Corporate Jet which was making the journey from Florida to New York. Surrounded by champagne leather and shiny walnut we were whisked through the sky to begin our recovery journey.
To overcome this ghastly blood cancer, it’s likely that Ben will need both chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. The good news is that there are brand new chemo drugs that have far fewer side effects to the traditional drugs used. Plus, his grown children, two little grandchildren and brother and sister live not too far away. And of course, he has my support every step of the way.
I’ve only ever regarded New York as a pit stop before, somewhere to shop, sightsee for a long weekend, fitting in a meeting with a publisher if I was lucky. I’m not really a big city person anymore and absolutely hate cold weather, choosing sunshine over snow any day. Now the big Apple is going to become home for the next six months. I’ve found an apartment with floor to ceiling windows so we will be able to look out on the buildings of Midtown instead of the beach. But at least we will be doing that together. And that’s when I realised that home could be a cardboard box as long as we could hold hands and share our journey.
My first inclination was to mourn the loss of the gorgeous life we had in Florida but after considered thought I am feeling grateful I can spend more time with my dearest Benjamin and help him through this challenging journey in the weeks and months to come. I’m feeling blessed because I came to realise what truly matters in life.
Any healing and prayers would be welcome and gratefully received.