(Hilary Osborne/ The Guardian) — The day after I received my breast cancer diagnosis last year, when I was still unsure whether it had spread and how bad the news really was, my partner opened his mouth to comment on my loading of the dishwasher. I knew what was coming: some clearly mistaken criticism of the positioning of the fish slice, or a question about why I’d chosen to (correctly) place the small saucepan in the top rack.
But then he closed his mouth again. Immediately I told him that this couldn’t go on. No matter how ill I was, he couldn’t stop arguing with me about the dishwasher. He agreed, and stayed true to his word, despite being definitely wrong.
When you find that you’re seriously ill, you know a lot of things are going to change, and it’s scary. I was keen to keep things as normal as possible if I could, and that included my closest relationships. I didn’t want the fact of me having cancer to creep into every aspect of my life, to the extent that I’d be treated differently by people who knew me best.
But of course it’s impossible for it not to make a difference. I was sick and tired, and my family were having to watch without being able to do much about it. They had to put up with complaints when they had made an effort to do something kind. (…)