Better Together

Courtney Fitzgerald essays

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Our story began simply: boy and girl meet, become friends, fall in love, get married, and run off into the sunset for a happily ever after.

Along the way to happiness, we faced many hurdles, yet we overcame them. In 2012, we were in the best place of our lives. Eleven years of marriage, two kids, and many difficulties, we were still going strong. We were pursuing dreams and KNEW that life could only get better. Nothing stood in our way.

In November of 2012, my husband, Scott informed me he was going to fundraise for Movember: grow his moustache in order to raise awareness for men’s cancers, just like he did in 2011. Like any supportive wife, I agreed. While I hated his moustache, I absolutely admired my husband for giving so freely.

Scott hated cancer. It ran in his family, and he knew others it took too soon. He supported breast cancer, but was quite passionate about how little awareness about men’s cancers existed in our world. “Men are just as important in families. We need to stop cancer in ALL people,” he often said. He grew his ‘stache, and revived his MoBRO fundraising page.

Unlike 2011, Scott never reached his goal. Throughout that fall, he was getting sick, losing weight, pacing instead of sleeping, and spending more minutes than ever before in the ER and doctor’s offices. He finally had to grow his beard, instead of a moustache, when he was way too cold walking his mail routes. “Babes, there’s always next year,” I told him.

Scott continued to show signs of illness. Appointment after appointment, we heard, “It’s not cancer.” Of course, we breathed many sighs of relief, followed by confused sighs of frustration.

A month later, after a complicated type of exploratory surgery, the surgeon pulled me into a tiny room, along with Scott’s mom and said, “When I looked into the lining of your husband’s lungs, I found lots and lots of cancer.”

In a second, my world crashed all around me. The doctor went on and on and on, but the words he said were BEYOND my comprehension. “I can’t do this. I don’t want to parent alone,” I either said or thought a million times a minute. “How could this be true? How could it be my life? Not Scott. Not us.”

For months and months, Scott fought cancer with the love and support of everyone. Doctors might have said, “Terminal,” but we heard, “You’re a unique case.” If he was a unique case in cancer, then he WOULD be the unique case in beating it. I just knew that the power of positive thinking would win. He could live with cancer for years. The odds are meant to be beaten. Scott and I were made for each other; our family was better together than apart. There is no way he was going to die; not now, not yet.  

Scott fought harder than a superhero. He endured the harshest chemo available today, and when that stopped working, he agreed to a different kind of chemo. He lived with an unbearable amount of pain, and agreed to a pump that helped with some of his pain.  

He lived with looks of pity in public, and the invasion of strangers wanting to help into our home. He endured countless surgeries, medicines, and procedures, including radiation. His body stopped being his, which is a nightmare for a person as private as Scott. He fought and fought because living was his only choice. He was a husband, a dad and desperately needed on Earth.

One August evening, after a surprise admission into the hospital, I knew in my broken heart that cancer was on its way out of our lives. It would soon leave our house, and Scott would be free. Two days later, the doctors turned off the machines, and Scott left our world for the next.

In death, Scott beat cancer. He is no longer in pain, has no worries, and is completely free forever.  


About the Author

Courtney Fitzgerald

Courtney is a widow, mom, teacher, writer, photographer, and dreamer. She writes about her perfectly imperfect life at .

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