A collaboration with our friends at The Firefly Sisterhood. We're starting with the perspective of Caregivers who are caring for their partner. In future posts we'll begin exploring other perspectives.
Everyday life does not prepare anyone for a cancer diagnosis.
Where would you learn this?
In this 2 part blog series, we hope you’ll find comfort in reading the words of real caregivers sharing their very real experiences while caring for their partner. We’ll share their encouragement and local and national resources if you or someone you love is a caregiver.
The Cancer Diagnosis
My first reaction was shock and surprise—my wife had no family history of breast cancer and she had just finished breastfeeding our (child)!
My wife and I have 2 kids. Cancer became like the third child in our marriage, It was super needy, very unpredictable and could be the biggest pain in the ass.
Cancer is a perpetual cloud hanging over our heads. I wish I could take away all of her pain. I want to be in her shoes. I want to be the one with the cancer instead of her.
It was so hard watching him not feel well and not be able to help him. I felt like I had to be optimistic all the time, and it was hard to balance this and talking about the bad stuff and the what-ifs. I regret not having the end-of-life conversations with him.”
Part of being a cancer caregiver also means taking on additional responsibilities—tasks that do not come naturally and/or duties never completed before: cooking, cleaning, yard maintenance, finances, etc.
We had a meal delivery service bring food to our house and I had to learn how to cook while my wife took care of herself, I’ve had to learn how to get professional help with things like cleaning. But there is only 24 hours each day to get everything done. I don’t spend as much time exercising or working out because I feel like I need to be home helping my family.
Children of caregivers are affected, too.
My son was in college when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. He would drive back home often—getting lots of speeding tickets—to see his dad, until he finally had to pull out of college for that semester.
Caregiving is a team sport.
In hindsight or having done so themselves, each caregiver encourages others caring for someone with cancer to ask for help. Chris remembers friends, family, and even acquaintances offering to help, but not wanting to admit his vulnerability by accepting. He strongly suggests “coordinating and reaching out to the right people at the right time for the right things: empowering family and friends to be involved.”
His football metaphor: “Caregiving is a team sport which you need to learn to play. You should think of yourself as the quarterback throwing passes and engaging the team (your friends or family) instead of running the ball yourself on every play.”
Case Keenum showing caregivers how it's done with the Minneapolis Miracle!
Chris continues, “I had this friend who brought his family over to help out. He looked past my wife, who had cancer, and said, directly to me, ‘I am here to serve you.’.” Chris was amazed.
Are you a caregiver? Do you know someone who is currently a caregiver?
Reach out for help or help someone today. We’ll continue the conversation in part 2 as we explore personal and relationship changes as well as local and national resources for caregivers.
*Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.
Are you new to cancer caregiving? Do you know someone who is? When cancer strikes our loved one, we caregivers instantly begin playing a role we've never played before. Cancer impacts every aspect of our life. We get no training, no chance to get good at it first. We just start playing the game!
The Beginner's Creed