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My Journey Through Love and Loss – Part 1

My Journey Through Love and Loss – Part 1

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There are things that happen in our lives that change it forever; Sept 19th will always be one of those days in my life as it is the day that I lost my best friend, the one who always had my back, who I could count on, my husband….

January 1997, at a broomball game was the first time I met Matt. I was 17 and he was 19 and in college; he had just started dating my friend and came out to watch her play. Over the next couple of weeks, I got to know him better and after she broke things off we continued to hang out, and not long after we started dating. Shortly after my 18th birthday in late February I knew that I would marry him….I know, I know how could you know, but I just did, I can’t explain it. I graduated from high school, stayed in Ottawa and attended Carleton University, and in November of 1998 we were engaged. Like any young couple we had our ups and downs, but we loved each other with all of our hearts and on October 5th, 2002 we got married….I was 23.

We had bought our first home together and for the first time lived somewhere other than under our parents’ roofs. It was an adjustment….being married, living together (all the time), owning and being responsible for a home, paying bills but we were happy and looking forward to all that the future had in store for us.

That first summer Matt was having very severe headaches and it got to the point that he would wake up with one and go to bed with one. He had always suffered from migraines but these were different. He went to the doctor and in July had a CT scan to see what could be causing all the headaches; they came back clear. However these headaches continued and it was a very special Dr. that he started seeing in Sept that pursued this and promised she would get to the bottom of it. We celebrated our 1st anniversary, and although I was concerned with all of the headaches he was experiencing I had no idea our life would be turned upside down within a few short months.

A few days before Christmas I went with him in the evening for another CT scan. Again I was concerned but once it was done we were concentrating on Christmas and all the hecticness it brings with it; even with all this craziness his scan was always in the back of my mind and I was just praying it wasn’t something serious. A short time after his scan, it was confirmed that there was something there, but they would need to do an MRI to see exactly what they were dealing with. In January he had his MRI and they confirmed that there was definitely a mass there that shouldn’t be there…..but wouldn’t know for sure what they were dealing with until they did a biopsy. Looking back on it now I don’t know how we got through that month, how we didn’t go crazy, how he kept it together because inside I was falling apart. I was scared, worried, mad, every emotion I experienced it that month…..most of all it was the unknown that scared me. I was a month away from turning 25, he was 27 and this was something we shouldn’t have been going through….we were still newlyweds that wanted a family, who wanted to grow old together….why was this happening? I was going to work everyday leaving Matt at home as he wasn’t allowed to work until we knew what exactly we were dealing with. He was a CYC worker at Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa and he loved his job and was an avid fisherman and I knew it was just killing him that he had to stay home and couldn’t do either of the things he was passionate about.

We got his biopsy date which was late January. They needed to make sure his head was stabilized during the procedure and in order to do that he had to have a frame screwed into his skull. This was something I thought only happened in the movies, but here we were….his Mom, Dad and I all there by his side as they screwed this frame into his skull. I can still remember the fear in his eyes, even though he put on a brave face, his eyes couldn’t lie…..

Once again we waited, which ended up to be an ongoing thing……waiting for answers. We spent a lot of time together and tried to stay positive, but the unknown was always there. Finally on February 6th we had the follow up appointment with the Neurologist; Matt’s sister, a nurse, came with us both for moral support but also would understand the medical lingo we knew would go right over our heads. I don’t remember everything he said that day, just that he started talking about going to see a specialist at the General Hospital here in Ottawa and that they would discuss what the next steps would be and then he said the word…..Oncologist….had I missed something, an Oncologist….what was he saying? So we asked…..does this mean that Matt has Brain Cancer? It was a hit in the gut like I have never felt before….Yes. I lost it, I couldn’t keep it in, I tried but it just came out, the tears wouldn’t stop (as they do right now as I write this)….I was waiting to be woken up from a bad dream, this couldn’t be real! Unfortunately it wasn’t a dream and we had to call Matt’s parents and then mine who were waiting to hear from us… do you make that call? I don’t know how we did, but we did. We got home that day and allowed it to sink in….again we cried, and spent the night cuddled on the couch. We had a battle ahead of us that we were both determined we were going to win.

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Comments (18)

  1. Tricia Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    Mel, you are such a strong, beautiful woman. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I can only imagine how hard it was to write about. I never knew Matt, but I know he was a great man, who you loved dearly. I hope you are surrounding by friends and family today so you can reminisce about the great memories. xo
  2. Alaa Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    I'm so sorry for your loss :(
  3. Natteringnic
    Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.
  4. Bobbie Jo Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    Hugs to you on this very day...and may you share in all the time and memories that you had with him....You're very inspirational for sharing your story to everyone! I don't know you on a personal level but i too hope you are surrounding yourself with family friends & loved ones...prayers and thoughts to you your family and Matt's family as well.
  5. Amy Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    Aw, what a heart wrenching thing to go through. I'm so sorry for the loss of your husband.
  6. Crystal Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    Mel, this bring tears to my eyes too. I know I didn't know you when Matt was alive, but am grateful to have you in my life, as I am sure Matt was so greatful to have you too. I can't even imagine. Thanks for sharing your story, although I am sure it is so tough to do for you. XOX
  7. Hayley Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    A story that makes all of us be extra thankful for the families we have. Thank you for sharing. My heart goes out to you.
  8. Jen Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    Mel.... sending a prayer for you as you share such a personal & tragic time in your life.....
  9. Nataxja Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    I'm sorry for your loss. You are brave to take the risk to tell us all about your loss and pain. My thoughts go out to you today.
  10. Shakira Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    Brave woman you are to share your story. I am so glad that you have since found happiness after such a life-changing experience. Thinking of you today Mel xo
  11. Dahlia Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    Thank you for sharing your story Melissa. I couldn't hold back the tears reading it. I am thinking of you and your amazing mom today (I worked with her at CAS but never had the opportunity to know Matt).
  12. Maggie Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    Melissa - Beautifully written, and you are one amazing and beautiful woman. Hugs my friend. ox
  13. Kerri Tapp Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    MeLiss! Due to cirsumstances, I moved away shortly before you met and married Matt..from what you and your Mom have told me, he truly was your soulmate..I wish I would have had the opportunity to meet him. As I attended the service for him, I was blown away with everyone who knew, and didn't know so much, who were there to support your Family and Matt's. Thank you so much for sharing your Journey. As it appears, you are are strong as your Mom and Dad, no surprises there. There are never any replacements, for we are all individuals, but aside from loss, we do move on in other positive directions. You are in my thoughts Liss. Kerr
  14. Julie Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    Hugs to you Melissa on this day! Such a tragic loss for you.
  15. Jill Lacroix Wednesday - 19 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    You are a strong woman to share this so publicly. Proud of you....SHANLEY SHINES forever!
  16. Melody Lachance Thursday - 20 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    I promised that I would not post anything yesterday as the sadness would take over. All I wanted to say is that when we take our wedding vows, we say "For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death we do part". When we say those words, we hope that they don't happen, and hope that the death part will not happen until we have lived a good long life with our partner. When Matt got sick, or families where put into a situation that we just couldn't believe. We were afraid, angry for what could happen - and what might never take place. You my girl, put those fears aside and did what you needed to do, you honoured your vows and showed that age, years of being together, didn't matter - that love took over. You showed that walking away was not an option, even when you could have. The hardest thing for a parent is to loose a child, and the second thing is to watch your child go through what you did. Our families went through both situations at the time, as Matt was considered our son, and you were for sure a daughter to the Shanley's. I am sure as you continue to share your journey, all the readers will be amazed and in awe of everything you both went through. They all know how special you are, and for those who didn't have the pleasure to know Matt, you will bring him back to life for a few moments. I am so very proud of you my daughter (ok sorry people more tears), you opened your heart to share a story that touches our souls and to help us realize that every day is precious. Don't have regrets, don't miss the chance to just look at the beautiful things we have around us and enjoy them. I know your next few parts of this story will continue to touch everyone. xxoo Mom
  17. Melissa Thursday - 20 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    Thank you everyone for your kind words, love and support! All the comments are truly humbling, and this was a way for me to honour one of the bravest men I have known. Part 2 will be posted next week xo
  18. Juanita Allison Friday - 21 / 09 / 2012 Reply
    Your journey through all the rough times was written I know through a lot of tears. Keep up the good work with your friends. Definitely waiting for the second part. GOD BLESS YOU Tricias Grandma from N.B.

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