Introduction by Pat Taylor, CKN Caregiver Section Editor:
A question for caregivers: as we watch our loved ones navigate through the complexities of the cancer experience – from diagnosis, through treatment, remission, recurrence, and perhaps, end of life – does the meaning of HOPE change?
Since I first met an incredibly witty and charming young man named Peter Wilkinson and his loving wife Debs at the Teenage Cancer Trust Conference in London (England) three and a half years ago, Peter’s brain tumour has recurred three times…including most recently just weeks ago. He has faced numerous brain surgeries, chemo, and radiation treatments, but he continues to live with purpose and hope each and every day. As creator/host of several web series (Pierre Live, The Relapse Diaries and more – http://jimmyteens.tv/films-by/peter-wilkinson/) he chronicles his experiences with honesty and humour, to raise awareness and let other young adults like him know that they aren’t alone.
7 Tips for Caregivers of Young Adult Cancer Patients and Survivors
by Emily Drake
Caring for a person with cancer can be extremely rewarding, but it can be exhausting as well. A diagnosis of cancer during adolescence and young adulthood interrupts a person’s life and comes at a time when they are trying to complete the life steps (education, job, etc.) that are necessary for transition into adulthood. For example, they may have just moved away from home to find employment or go to school. They could be living with their parents, in a dorm room, with friends, or on their own. For this and many other reasons, the role of caregiver for these patients and survivors may be filled by a number of different people. You could be a parent or a grandparent. You could be their spouse, or a person that they just started dating. You could even be someone who is not a family member at all — a friend or a neighbor. You may be asking yourself, who is a caregiver? Am I a caregiver? A caregiver is anyone who provides care for, or assists, a cancer patient or survivor.
by Pat Taylor, CKN Caregiver Section Editor
The holidays can be a difficult time for those of us who have lost a loved one to cancer. If the loss is recent, it can permeate every pore of your being, every traditional event of the season. You notice your loved one is not there to decorate the tree, frost the gingerbread cookies, sing carols around the neighbourhood, light the menorah. For a parent who has lost a child, cancer can take away all the joyful child-like innocence and magic of Christmas, if we let it. Can such a fathomless hole in the heart ever be filled?
Yes, I believe it can be…eventually.
Coping with the Loss of an Adolescent/Young Adult (AYA) Child to Cancer
by Pat Taylor, Caregiver, Advocate, CKN Section Editor
As an advocate for adolescent and young adult cancer awareness, I have a lot of friends and colleagues who post daily comments on Facebook about what it’s like to live with cancer and how its short- and long-term effects impact their lives. Rarely a day passes without someone sharing the loss of an AYA to cancer. And I wonder…how are the friends and parents coping?
Have you ever thought about how it would feel to have your life suddenly turned upside down? Everything is going along as planned – maybe not perfect, but fairly “normal” – when suddenly your world crashes around you as your doctor tells you your child has cancer. Parenting a child with cancer is not an easy thing to talk or write about, but Lou Greenzweig generously allows us a peek into his world of parenting his son Matthew, at the time a young adult, through his cancer diagnosis and treatment. Through Lou’s detailed account of a year in his life as a caregiver, we can hear the love and dedication he felt for his son come through loud and clear. Thank you, Lou, for sharing a few of the things you learned along the way with us.
Our Caregiver Section Editor, Pat Taylor, met Lou Greenzweig at the OMG Cancer Summit in Las Vegas earlier this year. Pat was delighted when Lou agreed to write about his experiences with his son, Matthew Zachary, founder of Stupid Cancer.org, for the CKN Caregiver Section. ~Karen Irwin
by Megan Fox
It was a bright, sunshine-filled July day in the city of Vancouver. The city was looking shinier than normal and it seemed that everybody had an extra spring in their step. I was feeling pretty cheery due to the great city vibe, despite the task I was about to undertake.