In the cancer community, there are many people keen to talk about finding a cure, or about the experience of living with and/or surviving cancer. We try so hard to stay positive that we end up avoiding any discussion of death and loss…leaving those with metastatic and advanced cancer feeling deserted and isolated. At CKN we are looking to start publishing more on death, dying and “living while you’re dying”. We want to create a platform where people are free to explore the mysteries, fears and hopes surrounding death with the same enthusiasm and curiosity that we bring to all other aspects of life.
When assuming the caregiving role, I think it is easy to think of how to help: take over meals, offer to clean house, run errands or the kids to/from events, etc. Or if you live far away but still want to help, you may send flowers. Since I have assumed roles of both patient and caregiver, I can say that it is just not that easy. Hopefully my ideas below will help you. I don’t claim these to be “out of the box” or “new” caregiving tips, but they come from a long-term patient (me).
I first met Dr. Scott Borinstein, a young, dynamic and engaging oncologist, at Critical Mass (the Young Adult Cancer Alliance’s annual conference) in Denver last November. During a conversation between dart games, I began to share with him the loss of my daughter, Sara, to a sarcoma (his specialty). As we talked, I realized that I had a lot of questions about the relationship of the oncologist with his/her patients and their caregivers. Scott was open, authentic and keen to chat. It was clear to me that other caregivers could benefit from his answers. So I set up a phone interview with him, to have a more in-depth conversation that could be publicly posted on CKN. He graciously agreed.