Cancer's side effects on my life & business

Katherine & Chris Forbes

[This post was originally shared on my Designing the Row blog in August 2017 →]

Social media has a way of letting people into our lives so easily… but so often we only share what we all like to refer to as our “highlight reels.”

Today I'm sharing what being the wife of a cancer survivor looks like through my eyes because, well, I've never really shared my side of the story. I'm also telling this hoping that letting you in to my life past my highlight reel and sharing my lessons learned will be encouraging or inspiring to at least one person who reads this!

At this time last year (August 2016) I was still working part-time in artist management and I was at work when Chris called and asked me to come home. I knew he had been to the doctor that day so I asked him if everything was ok. He insisted that he was fine but that I should come home… so I did!

I got home and found Chris out in the backyard filling up the bird feeders and he said something like, “so, I don’t want you to freak out, but it’s cancer, and they want to schedule surgery asap.”

He went on to tell me about his appointment and more details from the doctor, but the whole time he was talking with a smile on his face! He said he’d be worried if/when the doctors told him he should be… but that for now, he was just going to go with the flow!

I went inside while he finished up whatever yard work he was doing. At this point I could’ve called my parents to fill them in, but I knew that would lead to lots of tears. So instead… I sat down at the piano to try to distract myself!

The next day, Wednesday, Chris went into work as if nothing were wrong (while I stayed in bed and called Denise, my boss, in tears for the first time). Later that afternoon I went with Chris to various pre-surgery appointments. We were so rushed to get everything done because his surgery was scheduled for first thing the next morning!

Early Thursday morning we were at the hospital! Still, very little time to actually process what was happening! When the surgeon came out to talk to us after the surgery, he wouldn’t make eye contact with me. He told us about a new form of chemo that wouldn’t be so hard on Chris’ body, but I felt like he was something holding something back.

Long story short, Chris’ tumor ended up being one of the biggest the surgeon has removed BUT since Chris had no cancer markers in his blood and since he works at the hospital (aka they know where to find him) they felt ok not doing any chemo or radiation treatment!

Post-surgery, I ended up at Walgreens after-hours a couple times trying to help him ease the pain… but being the determined and strong-willed guy that he is, he ended up back at work in less than a week!

For the most part, life was back to normal pretty quickly. He was cancer-free and his surgery scar was healing. I’d be lying though if I told you that our life has been back to the way it was before cancer.

This past week I’ve been reflecting a lot on why life has been different… and in my opinion, it has to do with our new perspective on life. In less than 3 months after Chris’ surgery, we bought a house, listed and sold our house (yes, in that order), and then packed up and moved across the city. Two months after that, I took my business full-time.

Moving!? That hadn’t even on our radar! Working for myself!? A dream, yes… but making that a reality wasn’t something I knew how to take control of. It’s funny though, life can flash before your eyes when you least expect it and if you choose to look at the positives, you end up gaining a lot of clarity.

My goal in sharing this story with you is to encourage you not to get caught up in the social media comparison trap because there’s always more to the story than the perfect photos show you. And if you are currently going through something that’s got you down... take Chris’ lead and look at the bright side knowing that you will come out a much stronger person on the other end.

We’ve all heard the quote that goes something like, “live everyday as if it were your last.” But since it’s almost impossible and unrealistic to put yourself into that mindset just because on a daily basis, I’ll leave you with these three lessons that I’ve learned to be true this past year...

  1. You never know what someone else is truly going through, so always give others the benefit of the doubt and never take anything they say or do personally.

  2. Marry someone who you trust and love with your whole heart, and life will always be good no matter the circumstances.

  3. Figure out what you want from life and don’t wait to go after it!


Katherine Forbes | Nashville blogger