Becky had always said to me that she was excited we were going to "grow old together."
That statement brought me so much peace. I could see us, both in our 80s or 90s, scooting along to our favorite coffee shop to read the Sunday New York Times (if still publishing) and talk about how blessed we both were.
That was just how our lives would end. In each other's arms, old in body but not heart or spirit. She so looked forward to that day.
It's my fault that day will never come, and in fact, came when she was just 58.
As I look back, I now see that Becky knew she was sick four years before she passed away. She was afraid to address the lump and just hoped it would go away. The signs were there for me, but I was too wrapped up in other "important" stuff to see it.
I had written a book about a missing Southern California family, the McStays, that had begun to consume me (and therefore, Becky). It was a controversial book that took off in the online crime forums. Soon, I authored a blog that had many thousands of hits every week and hundreds of comments each month. I began to believe "my own press" that screamed how "important" I was to the case." I was an expert, who needed to be involved. The blog, the media interviews, and my ego soon began to take over. I spent many hours daily trying to find the family, traveled extensively in search of the Mcstays and ran down every lead I received. Becky seemed to enjoy the ride as well, but I now think that she just wanted me to be happy and fulfilled, and so she supported my meaningless efforts. A love I could have never deserved.
I said and wrote things about people I never should have. I had become toxic. I look back now and see a man I do not know. I will forever be disappointed that I ever wrote the book. Thankfully, it is no longer available for purchase. The time I wasted that could have been spent solely with Becky. I was so blind.
While Becky constantly encouraged me to continue to try and "solve the case," I now believe that the stress she endured as a result of my involvement with the case caused her breast cancer to accelerate. Stress is deadly for breast cancer, for any form of cancer.
Had I been as concerned about Becky and her happiness as I was about the McStay case, maybe she would be here today? I will never know, but I will never forget how my selfish behavior during that time may have kept me from seeing the early signs of cancer in her body.
What about you? Are you alert to what is going on in your loved one's body?
That said, I can narrow down to one fact the reason I am riddled with guilt over losing Becky: I didn't know anything about breast cancer.
To me, breast cancer was a pink ribbon on an NFL football each October.
Had I know then, what I know today about breast cancer, Becky would still be here. I would have recognized the signs and forced her to get a mammogram and checkup. Hence, the reason my foundation is giving away free mammograms, to help calm my guilt.
My foundation is soon to hold seminars in the US that will educate men on this terrible epidemic. My encouragement to all husbands, boyfriends, fathers and brothers is to become "an expert" on the terrible disease of breast cancer. You can self-educate by spending a few hours online.
Please don't do what I did with my Becky. Take the necessary time to understand breast cancer and to observe carefully your loved one who may be showing signs of the disease that you may be missing.
This is the only body we get and the only way to beat breast cancer is to not get it.