Less than a year after Ashley and Marshall Lauen celebrated their wedding, Marshall was diagnosed with stage II Hodgkin's lymphoma. The couple put their plans on hold and moved from their home in Oklahoma to Houston for months of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.
Today, Marshall is cancer-free and on his way to completing radiation therapy. Here's what they learned during Marshall's Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment.
Finding strength during Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment
Marshall: I've learned what it's like to be weak. It is hard lesson to learn that most men would rather avoid than embrace. The disease as well as the treatment will chip away at any physical strength you have built up, and to get better you will be forced to let others do physical stuff for you while you rest and recover.
It's hard to go from "the man who gets it done" to "the man who watches it done." Taking that change with dignity and honor is hard to do, especially when you add the aspects of weight loss, hair loss and looking in the mirror to see a person who looks sick.
I try to remind myself that it's a time to build humility, character and show a lot of strength. I'm still learning this lesson, but with the help of my faith, my wife, and those who love me, it is becoming easier and easier.
Ashley: I've learned so much from watching Marshall. Going through cancer treatment can cause patients and caregivers to become immensely selfish.
This is a time when cancer patients need so much love and attention; however, I've found that when Marshall is thinking of others, he doesn't have time to worry about his own situation. There is nothing as humbling as seeing someone else suffering as you are wrapped up in your own. I often find myself consumed by all the tasks and worries ahead, but find my husband calmly praying or building relationships with other patients. Through his examples, Marshall reminds me that sickness and suffering don't give you license to be selfish.
Advice for couples coping with cancer
Marshall: I remind myself not to get caught up in stressing over a scan result or a blood test. You have to realize that you're not in control. You will quickly realize that worrying about things you cannot control will only make you feel worse.
Ashley: My advice for couples with cancer is to let go of your plans and make the best of your time in treatment. It can be difficult to have to move, put your career or social life on hold, and rethink your family planning, but the bigger picture is that you are fighting to keep one another.
We don't have it perfected, but we are working it out day by day.
Read more about Marshall and Ashley on their blog.