Why I Relay As A Caregiver
Husband Provides Unique Perspective On His Participation In Relay For Life
When my wife Serena felt she might have a blood clot because of pain in her leg, I took her to the emergency room. That was the day our lives changed.
The doctor had no compassion or bedside manner. After he finished his testing, he asked if we wanted the good or bad news first. We said, let’s start with the good news. His good news was there was no blood clot. The bad news was she had lung cancer and there was probably not much that could be done because it had spread. He contacted our primary doctor who gave us the name of an oncologist.
This was a Saturday and Monday was a holiday, so we could not make an appointment before Tuesday. The term, “a weekend from hell,” took on a completely new perspective to us. We experienced sadness, anger and much crying. The hopelessness created by the doctor made it impossible to know what to do. I could only hold my wife, cry with her, and feel completely inadequate.
I wanted to say something to give Serena hope but did not know what to say. I wanted to give my undivided attention and support to her, but that was hard because of my own turmoil. I had lived my whole life knowing I would die before her. She is younger than me, and wives outlive their husband most of the time.
Finally, we saw the oncologist and surgeon, both of whom gave us some hope and a plan to get through this. They believed the cancer was detected early and was centralized in one area where surgery could eliminate it. Hope returned.
After surgery no chemo or radiation was required. Later we found out that was the judgment of the insurance company but not necessarily the doctors. At the time, I thought it was a blessing. The surgery resolved all of it, and in my mind, she was cured. But two years later the cancer was back. This time she had chemo and radiation. She lost her hair, but not her battle with cancer. She lost weight without trying, but could not feel good about it because it was due to the cancer. She was sick often because of the treatments.
We joined a cancer support group, and it helped. We went from being alone in dealing with cancer to helping and being helped by others dealing with like issues. The support in such a group benefits all who attend. We all deal with cancer in our own unique ways, but dealing with it alone rather than in a group just causes unnecessary pain and confusion.
The thing you need most is HOPE to maintain strength to gain knowledge, assistance, and determination to overcome cancer. Those without HOPE are fighting a losing battle. Not everyone wins their battle with cancer, but everyone can be an inspiration to others. New treatments are made constantly with research funded by the American Cancer Society. Relay For Life is the main fundraiser we can all participate in.
You may not think of yourself as a caregiver. You may feel you are only doing something natural when you are caring for someone you love. Giving care can mean helping with daily needs, such as going to doctor visits, cooking, and getting medicines. It can also mean helping your loved one cope with feelings. Sometimes talking to someone is what your loved one needs most.
While giving care, it’s normal to put your own needs and feelings aside. But doing this for a long time is not good for your health. It’s common to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Caregivers often experience sadness, anger, grief, guilt, loneliness, desperation, and a feeling of inadequacy in being able to help while dealing with your own issues. Don’t sweat the small things. Getting your loved one to treatment is more important than cleaning the house. Sitting and holding your loved one is more important than mowing the grass.
So why do I Relay? I Relay to support my wife. I Relay to support me. I Relay to support all those fighting cancer today. I Relay to celebrate all the victories over cancer. I Relay to remember all those who fought the battle and lost. I Relay to fight back and support the research that will save future cancer patients.
Let’s all CELEBRATE, and always REMEMBER, and always FIGHT BACK.