What happens when you and your spouse experience cancer? How can looking for small moments of joy help you move through grief? Are you continually pursuing the next big thing instead of appreciating what you’ve got in front of you?
In the fifteenth episode of the How I Got Through It series, Joe Sanok speaks about getting through cancer and the death of a partner with Dana Frost.
In this Podcast:
- Dana’s cancer diagnosis
- Working through cancer in marriage
- Brad’s passing
- Helping each other through it
- Getting through the grief
- Dana’s advice to her past self
Dana’s cancer diagnosis
At the end of 2011, Dana was diagnosed with cancer. For a couple of months, she left the lump on her collarbone alone, not thinking much of it.
When she finally got it checked out once she got health insurance, it was cancerous.
Dana tried an integrative medical approach which got rid of the cancer, however, she relapsed later on, and then chose the traditional route of radiation treatment and has now been in remission for 10 years.
Working through cancer in marriage
Dana and her husband at the time, Brad, were working as a team once she got back from treatment in Arizona. However, they first had to figure out how to get there.
It took some time for us to get back into our groove with me coming home with this fear of relapse again … shifting my life and my life shifted in a way that Brad knew about and heard about but didn’t live with me, and so that was a challenge for us to get on the same page. (Dana Frost)
In 2016, Brad was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer.
It wasn’t good … any kind of stage four cancer is technically terminal … it’s just a matter of time and we weren’t given a specific timeline but we were told maybe a year. (Dana Frost)
From Brad’s surgery, it went downhill.
Each week there was a new emergency with new symptoms or tumor growths, and every time they thought something would work then something else bad would happen.
Helping each other through it
To cope with the grief of the situation, Dana and Brad were intentional about finding joy in the difficulty. They:
- Danced often and danced together
- Took long walks alongside the river that was in front of their house
- Laughed about the small things (and the big things)
Getting through the grief
Brad did not survive his cancer. He died 100 days after his diagnosis, so much faster than even the doctors expected … his last two weeks of life were [spent] surrounded by everyone he loved. (Dana Frost)
Brad and Dana’s family and loved ones all came to their home to visit Brad when they knew that his time was near.
They played music, shared stories, and spent time together surrounding him over his last few days.
Brad and I never had the conversation about what he would want in those final days but it is truly what I believe is how Brad wanted to go. (Dana Frost)
For the next couple of months, Dana went in and out of grieving. She had to secure a 9-5 job to pay off the mortgage, and that pushed her to start doing things.
But before then, she took a three-month road trip, mostly solo, and drove aimlessly to grieve. During this time, music became an incredibly important part of her grieving and healing.
Dana’s advice to her past self
Appreciate it when life is good. Do not let bad times be the thing that forces you to appreciate what you’ve got when you have it.
You don’t have to be positive all the time, and you can express all the emotions that you feel without judging them.
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
- Visit masszymes.com/joefree to receive a bottle of enzymes and two books for free!
- Visit the Forced Joy Project and connect on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Check out these additional resources:
- How I got through my father’s suicide with Ashley Mielke | POP 749
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Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
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