Doing What You Can

Life is what happens every day. It’s getting up and going to work. It’s spending time with your family. It’s trying to enjoy all that you can. But then cancer comes along and rips a big part of your life away. You lose control and the life that you had changes. Sometimes it’s not forever, but it is for that time. Life is life, cancer or not, you have to try to make the best of it. That’s what Crystal did.

Getting cancer is no joke. It’s scary and confusing. Some doctors will take time and explain everything, while others go through what will happen a little faster. Either way, you’re shell-shocked. What do you do, what will happen, how will you feel, will you make it to the other side? Crystal had some of these questions and as her caregiver, I had others. Her treatment took a long 6 months and the questions we had never ceased.

My job as Crystal's caregiver

As a caregiver, I had the job of making sure everything ran smoothly. I scheduled appointments, called doctors, and was the main driver to appointments. I also tried to make Crystal as comfortable as possible. Water was always left by her bed, her sheets were changed weekly, I tried to cook the best and healthiest foods, and we took walks together when she was up to it. No matter what I did, I always felt guilty. I had to work, so I wasn’t home all day. This meant Crystal was left by herself for hours. I also felt like I just didn’t do enough. We have talked about this since, and I’ve found out some of the things she wished I did. This has also added to my guilt.

So what do you do? The truth is, there isn’t a book about this. Do what you can, but try not to feel guilty when you can’t do it all. I try to shake off the guilt with a walk. And, the other thing that has really helped me to shed guilt is journaling. Whenever I feel like the anxiety has built up too much, I sit down and write about it. I highly recommend this. Journaling and walking have been my two biggest lifelines when I felt I was drowning.

Cancer affects the whole family

When a family member gets cancer, the whole family is affected. It’s best to talk about it. Let your loved one share their feelings and share yours. Maybe you can’t share with them right now, but when you’re ready, find a friend or another family member and share what you're going through. They may need this talk as well. As the person with the disease, cancer also takes something away from the caregiver. As a caregiver, I found many things about my life to be different. I had to plan my time better, I had to cook different things, and do more laundry. But if you think about it, life changes all the time. It has ebbs and flows, with good times and bad. Like always, you have to move on and see where life leads. With that said, you have a right to feel what you are feeling and you should try to come to grips with that however you can. Your feelings and health are important too.

As a caregiver, the best advice I can give is, do all you can for the person you care about. They are going through a lot. But so are you. Take time for yourself. Take a walk, read a book, or get a massage. You will come back to the situation feeling better and this will help you to care for your loved one. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to say yes if help is offered. You don’t have to do it alone. When cancer becomes part of a family, life will change, but you will get through this.

Wishing you health & happiness.

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