Editor's Note: Our guest blogger is Beth's husband, Dennis Dowhen. He shares his perspective on Beth's diagnosis and treatment with everyone who has to cope with a cancer diagnosis — even if it isn't their own.

My wife, Beth, is a mother, student, volunteer, art designer, writer, teacher and now a successfully N.E.D. cancer survivor. Beth, my soul mate for 41-plus years, has always been the steady, main capstone in keeping our family of five upright and God-centered. Not willing to fully retire from teaching, Beth is now volunteering and teaching part-time at a clinic, and she is looking for other opportunities to share her talents with others.

After writing and reading this several times, I was truly amazed at the woman I married. Thinking about life without her is scary to me. When Beth and I found out she had a possible life-threatening or debilitating cancer, we were both dumbfounded and in tears. Beth never smoked or used drugs. "Why Beth, why now? Life's not fair!" was my reaction.

It took a long six days and nights after tests to finally get the diagnosis, treatment regimen and Beth's cancers survival statistics. The one redeeming positive was: Beth having never smoked or used drugs almost tripled her successful treatment outlook. After eight weeks of chemo, radiation, swallowing treatments and new ground-breaking acupuncture sessions, we thought Beth was now on her way to recovery.

Beth would have to continue with weekly sessions of swallowing and acupuncture. It would be four more months before she started to really feel an improvement in her eating and swallowing abilities. Scarring in her throat from the radiation took a long time to dissipate, forcing Beth to eat slowly while constantly drinking water. That continues through today — a year since we found out she had cancer. Even with survival statistics on our side, going day to day not knowing what tomorrow will bring weighs heavy on the heart and mind. As a husband, I had to live it and go through all the ups and downs with Beth and then, only then, was I able to talk about it and share it with you.

In closing, two additional positives sprang from this. Beth lost and kept off some weight, and she no longer desires junk food. Both are health positives. God has been good to us, so Beth and I wish you the same.


Share Your Thoughts

How has your significant other dealt with your diagnosis? Or, if you're in a relationship with a cancer patient/survivor, what effect did the diagnosis have on you? Share your comments below.

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Beth Dowhen
About the Author

Since she was a young girl growing up in Wauwatosa, Beth Dowhen has loved teaching. Eventually Beth received a phone call from the principal of Wisconsin Lutheran High School asking if she would consider teaching there. After 19 years, Beth reluctantly left the school and students she loved because she had developed an undiagnosed medical condition that left her exhausted after a day in the classroom. For two years, Beth and her doctors tried to solve the mystery. Eventually, Beth was diagnosed with Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma at the base of her tongue. No one suspected oral cancer since Beth was a nonsmoker, nondrinker, and HPV negative. Beth has received radiation and chemotherapy and some complementary acupuncture therapy, and now her scans show no evidence of cancer. She's returned to teaching, this time as a volunteer parenting coach at a counseling center.

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