Cancer Effects More Than Just The Person Diagnosed With The Disease
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!