It has been seven months since I began this blog. A lot has changed in life; not just mine, but my family’s. This disease forever changes a person. It is a hate-hate relationship that annoys oneself everyday. You begin to look for the better of the worse and find any good news to celebrate and cherish.
My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that metastasized. This journey has been full of downs, some ups, and a reevaluation of what life is really about. Today I have to say was a good day! Her new chemo treatment has stablized the disease with slight improvement in the lung and other areas. Hence, we celebrated this news!
Today’s blog is to hopefully help any affected by cancer. I have been on my own journey and struggles with this disease and thought I would share what I have learned so far!
What I have learned about being a caregiver to a cancer patient:
1. CANCER SUCKS!
Let’s get straight to the point! This disease is not wanted. This disease is not fun. This disease is a daily annoyance. I have never heard someone who has cancer or who is affected by cancer say they like this disease or do not mind it. Can you situation be worse? YES, but no cancer patient is happy with the diagnosis. It just plain sucks. And so do all the emotions that come with the disease.
2. Do not tell the cancer patient what he/she needs to do.
As a caregiver, it is difficult to know when to encourage and when to back off because everyday is different! There is so much that goes through a cancer patients mind and a caregivers mind, that sometimes you just do not know what to do, what to say, when to say things, how to say things, or even how to get through the day itself! One thing I encounted when researching cancer was diet and how important it is. YOU CANNOT MAKE SOMEONE CHANGE HIS/HER DIET UNLESS HE/SHE WANTS TO!!!!!!!!! Don’t do it. Don’t force it on the cancer patient. You most likely will upset him/her or make him/her angry.
3. Get a notebook and take notes.
This advice was given to me from a co-worker who is a cancer survivor. I have to admit, it is great advice. From the initial disgnosis until the end, take notes and date them. This has been so helpful! There is so much information given, so many new terminology, tons of appointments, and then there is chemo brain! I swear it is contagious!!! With so much information, the brain just cannot remember all of it. Do yourself a favor and save everyone a headache and take notes! Or atleast ask for print out of the bloodwork.
4. Cherish and make time to spend with your family.
This is so important. Cancer puts a perspective on life that many people take for granted. Cancer patients simply cannot enjoy life the same way they did before being diagnosed. Take time to call your parents. Go see your grandmother and grandfather. Plan into your busy schedule TIME TO SEE YOUR FAMILY before it is too late. I am not going to lie. I talked to my mom a lot before she was diagnosed with cancer, but I should have made more of an effort to go see her. I was always too busy with LIFE and did not see her as much as I should have. SPEND TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY!
5. Take care of yourself!
As a caregiver, it is so easy to forget about yourself. This is what happened to me. I found myself anger and on the edge. I thought I was anxious before, well anxiety can hit the roof at times. There are days that you just do not want to be bothered or do anything. But you have to get help if you need it, exercise, and talk to people about your feelings. I began going to to a cancer support group and it does wonders! It is just so nice being in a room with people who understand exactly how you feel! My group made me realize how much weight I actually gained; almost 30 pounds. If I did not go to this group, I would probably be up to 50 pounds by now. But my point is, the caregiver needs to fight this disease as well. It is a challenge at times to eat better, or go exercise, but your body needs it. Also, exercise relieves stress way better than eating a cake!