Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - 17

KELLY MCMAHON, WIFE OF DEAR JACK FOUNDER, ANDREW MCMAHON
A
t the end of May 2005, my boyfriend Andrew was diagnosed with Acute Lymphatic
Leukemia (ALL). He was twenty-two years old. I was twenty-three. Of all the
things we were supposed to worry about in our early twenties, cancer was not
supposed to be one of them.
It's been sixteen years since Andrew received a stem-cell transplant from
his sister. We will celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary in December.
We first talked about getting married in a hospital room, cuddled together in the dark to a
lullaby of beeping machines. The leukemia made Andrew neutropenic, which meant he was
at high risk for infection. As a result, he lived in the hospital for around a month at a time
twice that summer. Most nights I stayed there with him, pushing a cot up to the side of his
hospital bed, holding hands across the divide.
When we weren't sleeping, I was often lying next to Andrew. In those early days, before we
knew all the nurses by name, our bodies were so intertwined on his hospital bed, the doctors
and nurses often didn't know which one of us was sick.
Soon it would be easy to tell. I shaved his head before he started chemotherapy. He would
have a port placed under his left clavicle. He lost weight. The time in the hospital had its ups
and downs. It wasn't easy and at times it was really scary. Ultimately, he was lucky, and he
received a stem-cell transplant in late August 2005.
One hundred and twenty days later, he asked me to be his wife. When I said " yes " that
December night, I silently said a prayer for Andrew to live long enough for us to have a wedding.
A year later, when we raised a glass of champagne to his oncologist at our wedding
reception, my eyes filled with tears of gratitude for making it to that moment. No matter
what happened in the future, I would have this memory.
We began our marriage at twenty-four and twenty-five years old. At the time, I felt I understood
what love and commitment was more than most of my peers. During our vows, we
laughed at the " in sickness and health " part. I had already walked him through his sickness,
and we had come out on the other side victoriously.
Early survivorship would prove to be another sickness altogether. Unlike our time in the
hospital, which was staffed with a medical team and supplemented with the support of family
and friends, we were on our own. Andrew had survived-the only prescription left to take
now seemed to be to move forward and live the life so graciously spared. No one prepared us
for the PTSD, depression, anxiety and general loss of confidence Andrew would experience.
I had no idea how to help him through it, let alone the ability to understand that I had my
own trauma from his sickness to work through.
ELEPHANTSANDTEA.COM
SEPTEMBER 2021
17
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Elephants And Tea - September 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Elephants And Tea - September 2021

Contents
Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - Cover1
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Elephants And Tea - September 2021 - 1
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