Meet My Caregiver!
One of our advocates interviews her husband for Caregiver Awareness Month. Caregivers are our unsung heroes and this month we want to highlight their voices, their experiences, and their stories. Claire and Glenn experienced a very scary chapter in their lives that both agree - they were not prepared for. It was scary and the only thing that helped was taking it one day at a time.
How it all started
Claire: What was your initial reaction to my diagnosis?
Glenn: Shock, disbelief, confusion, fear. It came out of the blue, so I felt like we were hit by a runaway truck. No family history, no risk factors.
Claire: How did you as the main caregiver cope as treatments went on?
Glenn: I tried to take it one day at a time and not to look too far ahead. I’m not saying I was good at it or fine with it but felt like we didn’t have much of a choice; had to go with the plan.
Claire: How about when I was really sick during chemo?
Glenn: I was scared because I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t prepared and didn’t always feel adequate to deal with it. And I felt bad for you. Really terrible.
Learnings from that chapter
Claire: Did you learn anything about yourself during that time?
Glenn: Not so much about myself but that life can change in a heartbeat. You mostly go along in life thinking everything will be smooth and you make plans and you think things will roll right along and plans can get derailed in a heartbeat.
Claire: Personally, did you learn anything positive about yourself?
Glenn: I guess I learned that when something bad happens I will handle it. I won’t fall apart. This is not positive but I can’t help but mention that I’m scared now that something bad will happen because it was all so bad - it woke me up to the fact that things can go south quickly. When you get up in the middle of the night or the phone rings late I get a little more on edge than I used to.
Claire: What did you learn about me?
Glenn: That you were able to tough it out - after the initial fear and shock wore off you researched out the wazoo, stayed on it to make sure you got the best possible outcome at the time. “Nevertheless she persisted” is your mantra. Took the bull by the horns - all those cliches.
The highs and lows of cancer
Claire: What was the lowest point for you?
Glenn: When you would have a real bad night - which there were many - were low points. There were actually many low points. When the chemo had such bad effects on you we felt like we might have to quit the treatment altogether but then what would we do?
Claire: Any high points?
Glenn: Several days after chemo you’d make a comeback and start to feel a little better and it made me think there was maybe some light at the end of the tunnel. We figured that we might be able to handle this after all. I learned how to cook for you - on some days you felt she could only eat certain foods. We both now pay more attention to our diets than we ever did. We realize now more than ever the effects - good and bad - of what food has on a person. But the funny thing is, some days you wanted pizza and French fries so we just gave in and forgot about eating healthy. That was okay too.
Claire: What advice would you give to another caregiver?
Glenn: Try to learn as much as you can about it and be prepared because your partner is gonna have low points. Ask for help, don’t try to go it alone. Be an advocate for your partner as best you can - they’re gonna need you.
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