Luke and I had been married for about a year and half. With a little boy called Isaac and another little one on the way, we had the perfect little family. Everything was synonymous of paradise.
Until Luke got cancer.
He seemed fine, if a bit tired and wheezy, but other than that, he was normal. Well, as normal as Luke can be. Only when he went for his six-month check-up at the doctor’s did we realise that something was very wrong.
Luke informed the doctor that he was feeling tired and wheezy, and the doctor’s face went noticeably paler. After a couple more basic examinations, Luke was immediately referred to our local cancer support centre. I was almost in tears at this point. Why Luke? Of all people, he had to get cancer. I couldn’t bear to watch as he was put through rigorous tests to see if our worst fears had come true.
It was an agonising wait. After about 20 minutes, the cancer support nurse sat down with us in a little room and sighed. I was shaking, and she didn’t seem to want to make eye contact with either of us.
‘This is going to be very hard for you to hear, and my every condolence is with you at this difficult time, but it’s cancer.’ My whole world came crashing down. Every glimmer of hope was extinguished. She went on and on about the whole chemo and radiation process, but I don’t think we were listening. I had blocked out every sound, trying to come to terms with the fact that my husband had cancer. ‘I’ll give you some time alone.’ The nurse gave us a sympathetic nod, and left the room.
We were left alone in that little room, just the two of us. I didn’t know what to say, so I just lay my head on Luke’s shoulder. He rested his head against mine, and gently took my hand in his.
‘We’re gonna be okay. We’re gonna get through this, okay?’ He mumbled. I nodded, trying not to let him see that I was holding in tears.
‘Luke, you do realise what you’re going through? You’ve got cancer. You’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting through this. I don’t want to lose you. I can’t lose you. Isaac needs you, the little one needs you.’ My voice broke, and the tears slowly started to slip down my cheeks.
‘I know, but we’ve got to keep looking on the positive side, for all of us. You don’t need any more stress.’ I let out a strangled sob.
‘I love you, Luke.’
‘I love you too, Y/N.’
Throughout the whole of the chemotherapy and radiation course, Luke never stopped smiling. He was practically the same; bubbly, smiley, always laughing. His lovely blonde hair soon fell out due to the chemo, and he had to wear a beanie when he went out in case the fans or paparazzi saw him. He took it all in his stride.
I, however, took longer to accept the fact that I was on the edge of losing my husband. I tried to keep a smile on my face for him and for Isaac, but I sobbed myself to sleep on more than a couple of occasions.
For the first few months, everything was going alright. He didn’t show any signs of deterioration, but he didn’t show any signs of getting better. I was just grateful for every day he was with us.
Almost a year after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, we went in for a usual chemo session. Luke was wheeled off in a hospital bed just like any other session, and me and Isaac sat in the waiting room for the next hour or so. Isaac did some colouring and I helped him with spellings he got from school, while looking at cots and other baby things on any baby website I could find.
‘Mrs Hemmings? You need to come with us.’ I looked up and saw a doctor standing in front of me, a solemn look on his face. I stood up with Isaac, but he stopped me. ‘He’s going to have to stay here, I’m afraid.’ I started to protest, but he put up a hand. ‘Please, Mrs Hemmings, we haven’t got any time to lose.’ That changed my attitude completely. I told Isaac to stay there and that a nurse will be along soon to supervise him, and then followed the doctor.
We went through a seemingly endless labyrinth of corridors and hallways, up countless flights of stairs, before we arrived at a ward full of young people around Luke’s age.
‘Why are we here?’ I asked, getting more nervous by the second. The doctor sighed.
‘The cancer has spread to his lungs, kidney and liver. I’m so sorry, but it’s not looking good.’ He directed me to Luke’s private room, and left us in peace.
‘Hey…’ I whispered. He looked exhausted, tubes connected to practically every inch of his body, a heart monitor beeping obnoxiously in the corner of the room next to his bedside. IV fluids were being fed into his body by a drip.
‘Y/N…’ He tried to sit up, but I rushed to his side and gently pushed him back down.
‘You need to rest, sweetie.’ I took his hand and stood next to him. He looked up at me, blue eyes dull and lifeless. Where was the Luke I knew? He’d been torn away from me by this wicked disease.
‘Y/N, I think it’s almost time…’ My heart broke and the tears threatened to spill. ‘I just want you to know that you’ve given me the best life I could ever have asked for. You’ve made me the happiest man alive, from agreeing to be my girlfriend to bearing my children.’ His voice was scratchy. ‘I love you so much.’ I could just mouth an ‘I love you’ back. The lump in my throat was too huge for me to speak properly. Even as I looked at him, I could see the life slowly disappearing from his eyes. ‘I don’t want to let go yet… I haven’t even reached my 30thbirthday…’ My tears were now uncontrollable, and I placed my hand on his chest, feeling the last weakening beats of his exhausted heart.
‘You can let go now, Luke...’ I pressed a final kiss to his lips, before he slipped away with a tiny breath. I broke down, laying my head on his still chest. ‘I love you, Luke.’