Don't Forget About My Family
This is for those who know a family dealing with terminal cancer. Back in the spring, I had to go to the emergency room for what we believe was a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke. As you can imagine, the 3 days of lying in a hospital bed were dull.
There is not much to do while in the hospital except watch TV, eat, and maybe have friends or family visit and keep you company. I only had 3 visitors while in the hospital: my husband and 2 daughters.
Our caregivers need support too
After I was released from the hospital and sent home, I had a thought come into my mind: "I must be a burden on my husband."
My husband is my primary caregiver, and not just while in the hospital. While at home, he takes care of so much, including the house and the kids. Thankfully, both of my daughters are older and self-sufficient because he was already running back and forth to the house, bringing me food and necessities. He even had to call out of work for 2 days. The list of his responsibilities is seemingly never-ending.
What about the needs of our family?
While I was in the hospital, some people reached out to me and asked the standard "Do you need anything?" question. Anyone with advanced breast cancer knows this question all too well. My response was the standard: "No, thank you, I am good."
Keep our caregivers in mind
I had my husband, my caregiver, taking care of me, so I was okay. But what about his needs? Why are our caregivers often tossed to the side and forgotten about? Where were the messages asking what HE needs? It made me sad to think that not one person called him and asked, "How are you holding up?" or, "I'm going to bring dinner for you and the kids."
How to offer support to caregivers of those with cancer
Caregivers do not get enough support, and they need it. They need days when they do not have to be a caregiver or think about their loved one dying.
Do the caregivers in your life have the support they need?
And it's not just caregivers. It's also the family of the person with cancer that gets overlooked. My daughters have significant responsibilities, too, and need days to take a break. So, instead of asking me if I need anything, here are some ideas to offer assistance:
- Offer to bring the family a meal, like a dinner.
- Offer to help clean the house or do the laundry on a specific day.
- Offer to take the kids out and do something fun with them.
- Offer to step in as the caregiver for a day.
- Offer to take the family to the movies or dinner.
- Offer to drive your loved one to appointments on a specific day.
To extended family and friends out there, remember that our primary caregivers and immediate family need support, too. One of my fears is that after I am gone, who will be there to support my family?
How are you showing support to your loved ones?
Do you have a safe space where others understand what you are going through?