I had the privilege to be a part of a colon cancer retreat for patients and their care givers over the weekend.
These are brave couples. The patients are fighting off their advanced disease and their care givers are searching for ways to help in that fight.
I listened to the care givers talk about their fears and worries. One loving husband has taken on many household duties, but it sounded like cooking for his wife was one of his biggest challenges. He knows how important good nutrition is in the cancer battle and he was looking for ways that would help her keep an appetite and stay strong during treatment.
One of the wives talked about how her husband has decided he just wasn’t going to admit to himself that he even has cancer. He continues to do everything he did before diagnosis. He finally agreed to get a will written and that happened only after constant pleading. She is beside herself wondering how she can be a care giver, if he doesn’t want to be cared for.
And then there was a women who, with tears in her eyes, spoke about the fact that she has no control of this crisis in her life. She can’t fix what has happened to her husband and she’s always been able to fix most things….but not this.
Any of these sound familiar? My guess is YES.
Care giving comes after the words “You have cancer.” I’ve never seen a “How to…” tool kit sitting on a shelf in a hardware store. Shopping malls don’t have “Care giver kiosks” with hand-outs available on a busy weekend.
We learn it as we go and if we’re lucky enough to get some hints from someone who has walked that road ahead of us, all the better.
Care givers are warriors too. They just wear different uniforms.