Playing “Twister” With Cancer
Cancer doesn't consider the calendar. It doesn't avoid birthdays or important dates. We've spent holidays, anniversaries, and even some dates holding hands in a waiting room. We've said no to trips, birthdays, and experiences. It's all an exchange; those days in the waiting rooms, the appointments, the surgeries, the medications, they've become worth it with every celebrated moment.
Cancer is like a game of "Twister"
Occasionally, it becomes too much—the bending, the twisting, the eternal game of "Twister" that we play. "Right-hand anniversary, left-hand cancer." Sometimes, it ends in us tangled on the floor.
We can rarely ask for a "re-spin" or a break. But with the news that, once more, my partner would be going through a radiation cycle to help shrink a new growth, we did just that. We asked if it was possible to push radiation for a month without drastic side effects.
Postponing radiation to celebrate
My 30th birthday and our daughter's 7th birthday would have coincided with the original dates. Even if it was selfish, I wanted to celebrate these milestones as a partner and a mom, not as a caregiver. And for this time, we could postpone my partner's radiation cycle.
There will be times we won't be able to ask, birthdays and holidays that will be overshadowed by cancer, but I wanted to preserve these memories. I wanted my partner to be present for these moments just as I wanted to be present in these moments.
Feeling guilty as a caregiver
I've fought myself over feeling guilty, selfish, and a little silly for even asking for this. And my wonderful partner has supported me through those feelings with constant reassurance and some observations. I'd love to share those with you, especially if you are a caregiver.
Caregivers: Do you ever feel guilty about putting your needs first?
As a caregiver, I often ensure my partner is cared for, and their needs are met before mine. Sometimes, this means I lose sleep; other times, I spend hours on the phone fighting with the never-ending cycle of insurance, scheduling, and prescription refills.
But that is not all life is. I deserve days where I can focus on myself and where I need to concentrate on myself to be the best caregiver, partner, and parent I can be. Days will come when we cannot reschedule things, where we will spend birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays with cancer at the head of our table. So, we must draw a line when we can.
Connecting to gratitude
We will not always be able to ask for a "re-spin." I know it is an incredible gift to be stable enough to delay treatment. I understand that it is a gift we may not be able to have again. I am so grateful that for this phase of life, we can draw a boundary to keep from feeling that cancer is running our lives.
Do you have a safe space where others understand what you are going through?