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Young Cancer Spouses

By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer

(Page 3 of 4)

In most cases, the married couple will talk some things out, maybe many things. But when reality comes to pass, action is needed. This is also where groups like Young Cancer Spouses can offer support. In Karen’s case, she says the group gives meaning to what she and Mark went through. “[It] helps support those who come after me on the journey of being a Young Cancer Spouse.”

Expectations For The Unexpected

Greg Johnson, Founding Director of Young Cancer Spouses, refers to his family as “the all American family.” While after his wife Stephanie’s diagnosis, they tried to remain so, there were many things they didn’t expect.

Greg and Stephanie had been caregivers for his grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. While they knew what a caregiver might be defined as in that situation, Greg especially got an expanded view. “I didn’t realize how lonely the job can be.” People suddenly became afraid they were imposing themselves. While their intentions were good, no one seemed to know what move to make, including Greg. “So we went for six months living in a bubble.”

Within the bubble, this couple found that they did argue more, and problems took on a new intensity. The fortunate balance was that they made more time for one another, enjoying any time they had, regardless of whether it was a chemotherapy day, or a “good day.” As he puts it, “Live each day with no regrets.” This is how they managed to tolerate the increased tension, which included what and how much to tell their children.

Luckily, he found the online group and gained not only support, but eventually the mission that led him to be Founding Director.

When roads diverge

Matt Herynk, Phd is a founding director along with Karen and Greg. Matt’s wife was interviewed several months prior to her passing on October 6, 2007.

Kara noted that while Matt has spent time researching cancer treatment on a professional basis, they will have disagreements on how to proceed with her treatment(s). It is one thing when both spouses are uninformed about medical treatment. Often, they can learn together, starting at the same point (and sometimes still disagreeing).

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