This blog is about prostate cancer, but having any kind of cancer, whether you are the survivor or the care giver, is a major challenge.
Below is our first guest writer post talking about his experience in caring for his wife during her cancer experience.
I hope his story will help some of you in your own journeys.
What It’s Really Like to Care for a Cancer Patient
I never really talked about what life was like after my wife was diagnosed with mesothelioma. She sometimes tells me she can’t even imagine how I managed to cope with the situation of being a caregiver. That is why I hope I can express what I experienced during that time.
Right before she was diagnosed with cancer, approximately three months prior, she gave birth to our first and only child, Lily. We barely had enough time to celebrate Lily’s birth before the doctor told us about her diagnoses. The only thing I remember about that day was looking at my wife while she was crying and thinking, “What am I going to do?” I’ve never been in a situation like this before, and I never really considered that it could happen to us.
As much emotional pain my wife was in, I also felt like breaking down. In fact, I was just on the verge of tears before the doctor started questioning me about what we wanted to do about her future medical decision. I realized that I have no time to cry. My wife and I needed to make some critical, life-changing choices. It was just the first of many days from then on that I’d have to go through some emotionally overwhelming events.
Instead of being sad, I felt nothing but rage and fear soon after my wife’s diagnoses. For the most part, I could only utter profanity as a means of communication with my loved ones, my peers, and the doctors. Overtime, I learned to control my emotions. I sat alone, thinking, “I need to be strong for my wife and daughter.” That doesn’t mean that I never had any more struggles with my fear and anger, but I realized that I couldn’t let my family know that I was scared. I needed to be strong for them; I needed to let them know everything would be all right.
Through the mesothelioma treatment process, I had so many responsibilities. There were days when the to-do list was impossibly long. Not only did I have to worry about my work, I also made sure I handled travel arrangements, taking care of an infant, taking care of the pets and making sure I kept up with the medical appointments. I won’t lie; it was overwhelming. With time, however, I learned how to organize and prioritize everything that needed to be done. I learned to accept help from others when they were willing to help.
There was a specific period during the treatment that was especially hard. To this day, Heather, my wife, tells me she doesn’t know how I managed. That time was right after her surgery in Boston. Before the surgery, Heather wanted to fly to South Dakota to see her family. She also spent her time there to recover from her surgery. Lily was also staying with Heather’s parents. I stayed home to work to keep the bills from piling up. The thoughts and emotions that ran through my body were crippling. I wanted to be there to make sure Heather was doing well, but I was only able to see Heather and Lily once during this time.
I drove up there one Friday after work. It is an 11-hour drive each way and, to make matters worse, I drove through the night in a snowstorm. I had to spend a couple hours on the side of the road, hoping the snowplows would clear the roadways. Once they did, I continued my journey to see my wife and daughter. I arrived Saturday morning, spent the day with them, and prepared to make the 11 hour drive back in time for work on Monday.
I don’t regret those hard decisions. They were for the best. Sure, it was very difficult to be away from my family for so long, but there was nothing else I could have done. Cancer forces everyone to make difficult decisions. You never really know how strong you are until you have to go through something like this yourself. I learned to always accept help from others, because it’s just too hard to go through this fight on your own.
How to be a Guest Writer
Please send us a short email at GuestWriter@ThePCAP.org if you have a story you would like to share with our community.
Warm regards and best wishes to all.