by Marla Rosen, Caregiver
In 2010, my husband got diagnosed with late stage colon cancer. We thought “it couldn’t happen to us”. How many times have you heard that? Well, I am writing this to tell you that I never thought my family would face all that we have.
It all began when my husband Gregg started experiencing symptoms several years ago. He ignored them for months. Like many men, he was reluctant to ask for help, and as a result he didn’t do anything about it. After months of nagging he finally relented and went to the family doctor, who ordered a colonoscopy and biopsy.
At the time, I wasn’t thinking cancer. But in less than a week we had the news from the doctor that Gregg had a T4 tumour. We had always felt lucky that no one in our family had ever been directly affected by cancer and we didn’t see it coming. I was frightened and I cried for days, but then I fell back into myself and realized we needed to fight this. We didn’t know it then but we soon discovered how blessed we are to have what we needed right here in our community. We wanted to be home where we had the support of friends and family.
Matthew Zachary, Founder Stupid Cancer, Pat Taylor, CKN Editor, Jonny Imerman, Founder Imerman Angels at the Stupid Cancer Summit 2013
I had just arrived home from six days at the OMG2013 Cancer Summit for Young Adults in Las Vegas, when I received a frantic call from my daughter Jenny.
“Mom, Luka needs to go to the ER for stitches, can you come to stay with the boys?”
45 looong minutes later I had collected Luka’s brothers from the neighbours and was preparing them for bed. Kai, the youngest, aged 3, his brow creased with concern, told me what had happened in vivid detail. Luka had landed wrong on the jungle gym, hitting both legs against the metal steps and slicing open his shins. Red blood and white stuff oozed out of the cuts. It was scary.
Working While Caregiving: Three helpful hints
by Dr. Mark Kamstra, Caregiver
My wife was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on November 29, 1996. Her health had been in decline for the better part of a year – she knew “something” was wrong, just not “what”. At age 27, no one thinks bad things are going to happen to them. Because she had been slowing down for months and months, I was already picking up the slack around the house. With no kids and two cats, it wasn’t too hard to shoulder the burden, but it was already causing friction. I had a full time job and owed others my attention, not just her. She was a graduate student at the time, and she was not holding up her end of responsibilities. That was the emotional core of what I felt. She was feeling sick, so I did what needed to be done, but I resented her sometimes. Even after I knew how serious her illness was, I still felt those emotions bubbling up. We got angry with each other, talked and made up. We both allowed the other to get angry. It was always better after we talked.
by Lorna Larsen RN, BScN, Team Shan President
The instant your loved one loses their life, life as you know it changes. There are no words to describe the profound sadness and the process of grieving begins.
The parental caregiver role alters based on the age of the child, your relationship with your daughter or son and the role expectations of other loved ones in their life. My daughter, Shanna, friends and family called her Shan, was an independent young woman. Shan was living at home, preparing for a teaching career and other adventures when she was diagnosed late with metastatic breast cancer. Shan had graduated with a visual arts degree, was coaching figure skating and working as a swimming instructor and life guard. She was looking forward to joining friends in Europe before heading off to Teacher’s College. Shan’s dream was to work with young children. Once diagnosed, Shan asked that I stay with her through her treatment journey and assume her caregiver role.
by Pat Taylor, CKN Caregiver Section Editor
Like cancer patients and survivors, we caregivers need resources that provide us with educational, practical and emotional support so we can deliver the kind of care our loved ones deserve. As technology is changing, so is our access to information. From the privacy of our own homes we can observe or join virtual support groups, order or download books, read personal blogs by other caregivers, or browse online hubs like CKN that address our need for caregiver-specific information. However, the prospect of “surfing” through all the content out there can be overwhelming. So, during my tenure as Caregiver Section Editor here at CKN, one of my goals is to share with you some of the resources that have been helpful to me and to other caregivers that I have met and worked with since my daughter Sara was first diagnosed in 1997.
by Pat Taylor, CKN Caregiver Section Editor
When a friend or family member receives a cancer diagnosis, you are tossed into the role of first time caregiver on the spot. Your “normal” routines turn inside out and sideways. Even as you are still reeling from your own shock and fear over your loved one’s news, questions begin jockeying for position in your already-full mind. What do I do now? How can I help? What role does the caregiver actually play? What’s the next step?
Good questions! I went to the “experts”, people who have lived in the topsy turvy world of the first time caregiver, and asked them for some helpful hints. Although their experiences as caregivers varied widely, some of their suggestions were the same across the board: