Saturday, January 23, 2010

Love, Cancer and Good Friends

One of the questions I get a lot when I tell people I'm from Canada, is "How did you end up in Jacksonville?"

The place where I live is next to the Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. it's backyard. You can hear bombs and guns going off all day and at night. Sometimes it rattles the pictures on the wall.

Everyone assumes that I met a Marine, and that's how I ended up here. Women end up in this town in one of two ways: their boyfriend/husband is a Marine and brought them here, or their dads are Marines and they came here that way. I guess there's a third option, that the women came here as Marines themselves. How archaic is my thinking? ;)

Anyway, I'd like to use this post to tell the story about how I ended up here. I know that this is a gardening blog, but maybe this will help my readers to understand the author better. :) I love reading blogs about people's gardens, but my favourites are where you can also follow the life of the gardener. Makes a blog seem less impersonal, and I can see where the garden style influences come from.

Alright. Let's try this again, since it got deleted yesterday :)

Way back in 2004, I was a happy-go-lucky, 23 year old woman in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. This was before I discovered my love of gardening, and I spent most of my time playing an Irish sport called Gaelic Football. My teammates were not only good friends, but they were my family.
If you haven't ever heard of GF, you should check this out, very cool sport:

I'm #17 :)

I also am a huge lover of music (right now I'm the manager of a music department). When I wasn't playing GF, I was online checking out music forums. I met Mr. A on a Led Zeppelin message board in late November 2004. He had made a comment about a sports injury that I mentioned I had received, and we talked on from there.

We talked on the phone every day, for two months before we met. He bought me a ticket for Christmas, to come down and see him. My family and friends were a bit worried I think. He not only lived 2500 miles away in a different country, but he also is 19 years older than I am (gasp!). My mum said, 'Maybe he's online in prison, and he's trying to lure you down there'. lol

But I came down anyway, and I saw that he hadn't been lying about himself, and we had a great time!

Just after we met face to face:

In May of that year, he came up to visit in Canada for my 24th birthday. I picked him up in Calgary, and we drove through the mountains for two days. Mr. A was in total awe of the Canadian Rockies. He had never been out of his EST timezone before, let alone in a different country. Let me share the scenery with you:

We took this picture over a cliff, and right after that we saw a bear cub climbing up another cliff right above us. Amazing!

In Banff, Alberta (major ski resort town)

In Edmonton on my birthday

Things were going along well, and then in December of 2005, some bad things started happening. Mr. A started coughing up blood. We were both very freaked out. He had been a 3 pack a day smoker for 30 years, but quit entirely before I first came down to visit. He's also been a drywaller for 25 years, and breathes in all sorts of nasty things at work.

Mr. A put off going to the doctor, and everyone that cared about him nagged him till he went. They put him through all sorts of tests, and finally near the end of January the doctors told him he had lung cancer. A 'garden variety smoker's cancer', said the doctors. He had to have the bottom 2/3 of his right lung removed ASAP.

I was back at home in Edmonton this whole time, and I was an absolute wreck. I had been crying so much that my face looked like a truck backed over it a few times. My excellent, excellent roommates/teammates Carlin and Sky convinced me to fly down to North Carolina and be with him through his surgery. They told me not to worry about the rent, or taking leave from work, or stupid bills, because those things aren't as important as they seem. My brother and sister-in-law paid for my plane ticket to come down here. I'm very grateful to a lot of people, more than words can say.

Mr. A didn't want to put me through any of this, and begged me not to put my life on hold. But I'm stubborn and came down anyway. I arrived here on February 7, 2006.

Surgery was performed on Valentine's Day. :) That was the longest wait of my entire life. I had company in the waiting room: my husband's two daughters, Lindsay (who was 20) and Desiree (who was 10), and Mr. A's ex-wife (she came to comfort the little one).

When the doctor came out to tell us that everything had gone ok, he asked what our relationship was to the patient. We told him, "Daughter, daughter, girlfriend, and ex-wife" and he answered 'I don't even want to know...' LOL!

This is a pic of Lindsay and Desiree, taken on Lindsay's birthday after Mr. A got out of the hospital:

Mr A. was in the hospital for 10 days. For most of those days, the hospital was accomodating enough to set up a cot for me next to his bed. Originally, they thought the cancer was caught early enough to not receive chemotherapy. The doctors removed some lymph nodes along with the lung. They found cancer cells in two of them. Chemo was now on the itinerary.

Originally, I was supposed to go back to Canada after Mr. A was finished recovering. But now, I was scheduled to go home three days after his second round of intense chemo. I had seen the effects of the first round...not pretty.

We talked it over, and both decided that we wanted me to stay. We got married on May 3, 2006. It was a Courthouse Special, with Lindsay and her cousin as our witnesses. We went out for breakfast afterwards, and took some wedding photos in the park by the water:

The next day we spent our honeymoon in the chemo bay at Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville, NC. The doctors and nurses at that hospital are amazing people.

Mr. A has now been in cancer remission for 4 years, and we're coming up on our 4th wedding anniversary. During that time I became a permanent resident of the US of A, and we're very happy. We both love being outdoors, and going on all sorts of adventures. Our best time spent together is tag-teaming the yardwork :)

I'm glad all of you Patient Readers got to 'meet' Mr. A, and to share in the story of how a Zone 3 Canadian ended up in Zone 8a :)

Thank you very much for reading! Tomorrow, we'll be back to your regular, gardening schedule.


Jayne said...

Oh Kyna, I'm sorry to hear about all that you and Mr. A. went through. I pray for his continued remission. Coincidentally, I also met my husband online. We met in a chat room and then chatted, talked on the phone, visited each other for four years before we got married. He moved from San Francisco to Texas to be with me. I wish the very best to you and Mr. A.

Sunny said...

What a truly touching story...I'm glad Mr A is doing well..I'm sure that having you by his side during the whole ordeal helped him tremendously.....cancer is such a horrible thing. No one should have to go through it alone. Thanks for sharing your story because I also find it interesting to get to know the people whose blogs I follow. Take Care

Jim Groble said...

I had one of those chrome dome air cuts for a year. So far so good. It's a wonderful story. we are after all, more than gardeners. What we go through effects what gardening means to us. I found a peace in gardening that I did know existed.


Kyna said...

Thank you all so much for reading and for your comments :) And thank you for sharing parts of your own story in them as well. I love this blog, because I love meeting awesome people like yourselves :D

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

Wow what an amazing meeting and marriage. Cancer is dreadful to think about. My wife of 54 years has had it twice -- ten years apart -- once in each breast. Good luck to you guys.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

It was really nice to learn more about you. I'm glad your story had such a happy ending. You just never know how or when you'll find that right person.
I showed my 11 year old daughter the video of GF and she thought it looked fun. She plays both soccer and basketball. I'd never heard of it before.
PS Led Zeppelin is my favorite music! :)

Msrobin said...

Awww, such a sweet story. I wish you both well!

Carol said...

What a sweet and courageous love story! Many Happy Returns to celebrating your wedding day! :>) Carol

Kyna said...

Abraham: Yes, his cancer was the toughest thing I've ever gone through, and it wasn't even me with the cancer. I'm sorry you had to go through it with your wife, twice no less :)

Catherine: Glad to meet a fellow Zep-head! :D Mr. A tried to go see them in 1977, back when you had to mail money in for tickets. Came back "Sold Out" :( That was his 'white whale' that got away lol. GF is a great game, I'm glad you enjoyed the video! I miss playing so much....only major cities in the US seems to have it, and Jacksonville, NC isn't one of them.

And to all of you, thank you so much for reading and sharing in my story! :)

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

What a story, Kyna! You are such a brave and strong person! I wish you and Mr.A only the very best in 2010.

Noelle said...

Hello Kyna,

I love your story...I am so glad that Mr. A has been in remission for 4 years. I love blogs where people share part of their lives too. I love getting involved in other people's lives ;-)

Kyna said...

Thanks for reading Tatyana and Noelle, and thank you for the good wishes :D

Nell Jean said...

I do love a romantic story. This one is tops!

Kyna said...

Thanks Nell Jean! :D

Ali said...

I am new to your blog and love it. I think the way you met your husband is a lovely story!!

Cheers, looking forward to reading more!!

Gary said...

I follow your blog like some others,and smile and laugh at your lovely and humerous way of writing. But very, very occasionally a post stops me in my tracks and this was one of them.
What an incredible story you two share, and what a testing journey to both be on. You both obviously love each other so very much and have, and still are, going through some very testing times. Thanks so much for sharing such a personal glimpse into your life and I pray that things will continue to go well for you both. Take care.

Kyna said...

Ali: I just saw I never replied to your comment! Thank you! :)

And I think I'm getting all choked up, Gary! Thank you so much for the lovely comment. Sometimes when Chuckles is teasing the shit out of me (which he tends to do a lot because that's how he is), I have to count to 10 and remind myself that I'm just happy he's alive.
Even if he's driving me bugfuck in the moment LOL.

'Testing journey' is right on. All the bad stuff that can happen to someone happened at the beginning of our relationship. We figure if we got through all that, the rest can be considered cake!