Cancer Effects More Than Just The Person Diagnosed With The Disease

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Shari Pack
Joined: 10/16/2012

My cancer diagnosis was a complete surprise to me and my husband even though we were aware of an increased chance of certain cancers due to my family history. Our lives changed in a moment after receiving that dreaded phone call two days before Christmas in 2010. It was like hitting a brick wall at 100 mph. We went from two people with busy, physically active lives to essentially becoming prisoners of a hospital and our home for close to a year. My cancer surgery was scheduled just a few days after the diagnosis and soon after that, I began several months of chemotherapy.


Due to complications with the surgery and the chemotherapy, my husband and I became familiar faces to not only the staff at my cancer hospital, but to most of the emergency rooms in our area.


It was bad enough that I had to deal with the effects of the cancer, but watching how hard it was on my spouse was painful to say the least. My husband basically gave up his life to take care of me and while this sounds like the obvious thing for a spouse do based upon the “for better or worse” thing , not everyone can handle this type of situation for a number of reasons. Besides the sudden fear of losing your spouse, there are financial concerns as well as how the diagnosis is going to affect their life. And of course, if there are minor children involved, this adds even more fear and stress.  Helping care for a spouse with cancer is emotionally and physically draining and people do not realize how difficult it is for the spouse/caregiver in these situations.


People would call and send me cards with support which was beautiful and appreciated, but I kept thinking that my husband could use an occasional hug and some support too. 


If you or someone you know is going through a similar situation, my best advice is to acknowledge the caregiver whether it is the spouse or another family member with a “how are you doing through all of this” question. If at all possible, reach out perhaps by taking a “shift” at the hospital or even bringing over a healthy meal. While they may not admit to needing a break, they do!



Great post. I am a caregiver of my husband who is doing "ok" right now..but it's been almost a year since his dx. I am a basket case. First there was the shock...that took me months to come out of. Second there was all the late night research online. Third there was the reality of it all. Fourth was the so scared of the future. I am still on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th steps as I type this. I don't know what to do anymore :( I hardly even leave the house and I seriously do not want to. I have no desire to see "happy and normal" people. Sigh....
Sue, I am very sorry that you are dealing with this nightmare and I know that right now it may seem that it won't improve, but it will. You have to dig yourself out of this hole and start doing things to help yourself feel better. When I was going through my treatment, I made my spouse go out and play golf and other activities so he could get away from the situation from time to time. I don't believe that your husband would want you to feel like this and confine yourself to your house. Try and force yourself to meet a friend for lunch or do something that you enjoy. Believe it or not, you can be happy and normal during this time. Your normal just changed a bit. You don't have to feel guilty about smiling or going out. My suggestion is to limit what you research on the internet because you can drive yourself crazy with all of the information. We are all nervous about the future. Focus on getting through one day at a time. One thing that my spouse and I found to be helpful and I know it sounds corney, but it really helps, is to begin each day listing five things that you are grateful for. I hope that things get better, but it has to start with you making an attitude adjustment. (Pardon my bluntness) It's the only way out. :)
I am the caregiver for my beautiful wife. Sue i have been down the road you are at right now. And we as caregivers stand together in this. I am sorry you are going through all of this right now, but there is hope, and never ever give up. It is hard, very hard, but you have to be strong for your loved one. Don't be afraid to leave your house. Both you and your loved one need to get out and enjoy life together. Never let this defeat you. Researching online is a good thing, but at the same time can be a frightening thing. I learned the hard way and it totally consumed me for months until i snapped out of it and took control of myself, so stop scrolling through the internet in search for answers. Your doctor will give you any answer you need to know, just ask them. Our fight still continues, and it will for the next 4 years as i am sure yours will too. Stay close to our Lord and he will be there for you. Just so you know, there is hope, and never give up!