Ever wonder what it’s like to be a caregiver for a loved one with cancer? Imagine you're riding in a plane (your life) without a care in the world and all of a sudden the pilot comes on the intercom and says, “folks, there’s something wrong with the plane (cancer) and we all have to exit. Exit the plane…” You mean jump and then free fall, hurtling towards the earth with no idea what you are doing or anybody there to guide you? Now you’re starting to get the idea of what it’s like in the first days and weeks of finding out a loved one was diagnosed with cancer and you have the responsibility of being their caregiver.
But here’s the catch, you’re not alone. There’s a group of guys at Jack’s Caregiver Coalition who have all taken that same jump. During their free fall, they have learned the little tricks and tips to manage the situation at hand and are available to share their experiences with you. That’s what Jack’s has done for me; helping to evolve the responsibility of caregiving to a service that I am proud and honored to take on.
So much so, that when I heard Indoor Skydiving was an upcoming Jack’s event, I jumped (see what I did there?) at the chance to participate. We arrived, checked in, observed the wind tunnel with awe and got suited up. Our instructor Josh took us through the training and we were ready to jump. We all got two flights in the wind tunnel and the first was a lot like those first days as a caregiver. Some of us were all over the place and some of us were naturals. But for the second flight everybody did extremely well, to the point that Josh commented we were a rare group to all have done such a great job and managed to fly with control.
Not surprising if you think about it. With the wind rushing past your face and time standing still, you come to realize that you are not really in control. You just have to relax, let go, and allow your body to go with the flow. Let the balance come to you and then with minor adjustments you can move forward and back up and down. A lot like caregiving if you ask me. And when you exit the wind tunnel there is a group of Jacks with smiles to match yours and a hand held in the air to give a celebratory high five.
Watch the author's maiden voyage from beginning to end!
I did it. I wasn’t perfect in the wind tunnel, I may have needed some assistance from the instructor, but I did it. And I wasn’t alone either. There was a group of guys who understood exactly what I was going through, in life and in the wind tunnel, there to support and cheer me on.