9.28.2011

What Support Looks Like

While my aunt was battling breast cancer, my uncle (who travels for work a lot) put a magnetic pink breast cancer awareness ribbon on the back of his car. With tears in her eyes she told me how much that meant to her.

I was diagnosed just over a year ago with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory disease that attacks the spine & joints. I live with pain, stiffness, low-grade fevers, swelling, sleep difficulty, limping and more, depending on the day.

About a month ago, I received a package in the mail that an Ankylosing Spondylitis support group mailed me. It contained a tee shirt and a couple of Lance Armstrong "Live Strong" style blue wristbands for Ankylosing Spondylitis. Blue for arthritis {AS is an inflammatory form of arthritis, like Rheumatoid Arthritis}, with the words Stand Tall etched on the band.

I dumped out the contents of the bag and was surprised when my husband Jonathan snatched up one of the blue wristbands and immediately put it on his wrist. Since that day he was worn it every day, no matter where he goes. He wears it to work with khakis and a button-down shirt, church with a suit and tie; at home, in jeans and a tee shirt. 

 
People ask him what it's for. He replies something like, "Well, blue is for arthritis awareness, and this particular wristband is for Ankylosing Spondylitis." He goes on to say what AS is, and that his wife has it. People have replied with, "Oh! I wear a purple one for Lupus" and "We know what Ankylosing Spondylitis is, our daughter was diagnosed when she was 21. She's 41 now."

He is spreading awareness. And that's powerful.

But what it means to me, I can't fully explain in words.

I didn't ask him to wear it. I didn't expect him to wear it. He just chose to.

Whenever I see him wearing it, I feel a strong sense of support. I feel less alone in my battle.

It reminds me of wedding rings. When I see him wearing his wedding ring, I feel loved and affirmed in his sense of devotion and commitment. But wedding rings are a societal norm. They're expected.

Awareness and support wristbands and car magnets are not.

When Jonathan chose to marry me, I wasn't battling disease or pain. When Jonathan chose to wear the wristband, I was still me, but I was a different version of me, too.

Society didn't expect him to donn a wristband to show his support for me. He just did that on his own. To me, it means that despite disease and pain, he still chooses me and is more committed to me than ever. He is choosing to stay by my side, no matter what comes, and walk this journey with me.

It means the world to me.

4 comments:

  1. Love, love, love this post. Beautiful.

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  2. I'm in tears. This is so beautiful, Jen. Good job, Jonathan.

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  3. That is really powerful; to take a "simple" action like that makes such a difference. Reading your words made me teary. Love you, Wendy

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  4. Jenn you put ideas into words so well. Tears came to my eyes as I read this. The words, "he just choose to" is what I liked the best. Thanks Jonathan for choosing to wear the wrist band for Jenn. And thank you to my sweet husband for choosing to put the pink ribbon on his car for me.
    Love Auntie

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