The Hardest Conversation of My Life
At the age of twenty-two, I had the hardest conversation of my life. I told Patrick, the man I had loved, since the age of sixteen, that I wanted him to find love again and be happy after I died.
By Sarah Swaim Rostock
We had just endured the worst year of our lives – my cancer relapse, intense chemotherapy, total body radiation, stem cell transplant, compression fractures in my spine, and months of graft vs. host disease in my gut that was slowly killing me. Mentally, I was in a really bad place. I had started to give up and plan for a world that would have to go on without me.
I think back to that conversation often. Patrick and I were sitting in the car outside of my childhood home. I got very serious. I can still hear myself saying the words and the brief silence that followed. I had wanted to have the conversation for some time. I am a very self-aware person and knew how sick I was. If things didn’t get better soon, I would die.
I had to let him know my wishes. I loved him so much that I wanted him to be happy after I was gone.
After the brief silence, he shook his head and with a small smile told me that he appreciated the sentiment, but that he would “likely become a monk if I died.” Patrick did what he’s always done, he was supportive, acknowledged that I was serious, but ultimately pulled me out of my dark place with his simple, perfect humor. I still am unsure if he was joking or if he would actually have become a monk.
I eventually “turned the corner” and began to get better. Patrick and I got married on October 29, 2016. My wedding was a day I was uncertain I would see. Thinking of what I could have missed makes our day even more special. It could have easily gone another way. The way where I was no longer present on Earth. Either way, I’m forever grateful for Patrick and his humorous, loving response.
Sarah is 32 years old, a 2-time Childhood Leukemia Survivor and Stem Cell Transplant Thriver. She loves giving back, volunteering her time as a mentor and counselor at Special Love’s camps for children with cancer, serving as a St. Baldrick’s Foundation National Ambassador in 2010, event coordinator, guest blogger, co-event organizer for the Hampton Roads Goes Bald event and a multiyear shave, having personally raised $30,000 for childhood cancer research.