Walk With Me
The focus of a cancer diagnosis is on the cancer patient, naturally. There is often a caregiver struggling with their fears and worries over their loved ones in the background. When I received my Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis, I focused on my treatment determined to eradicate my cancer. I didn’t want my children to fret. I put on a brave face and did my best to fight back the tears, fears, and pain.
I learned to accept help. I wanted to do it all myself but quickly realized that I needed to rely on friends and family for support. Friends or family would often use “we” to discuss my cancer. When I first picked up on this, I was annoyed by the idea that others were trying to appropriate my illness. It was my fight, my pain, and my fear. I soon realized that it was not mine alone. I learned to accept the interest in my well-being. Initially, it did not occur that my loved ones were going through the illness alongside me.
Letting my loved ones be there for me
I was self-centered and hyper-focused on my wellness. I intended to survive to be with my children. I wanted to get through each day one at a time. Sometimes we have to put our pride aside and let others into our lives. The loved ones and caregivers are not trying to own your illness. They want to understand what you are going through so they can support you.
I found that my family and close friends were curious during my treatment. Questions are not invasive, but a show of interest. They wanted to understand my struggles with side effects like hair loss, fatigue, bone pain, nausea, and neuropathy. Genuinely, my loved ones wanted to walk with me. I had to learn to let them.
It is essential to focus on self-care and wellness during a cancer journey. However, it can be equally important to let others be there for you. Allowing our loved ones to be a part of the process, to the level they are comfortable, will make them feel at ease. Indeed, some cannot handle the gruesome details, but they want to feel included.
Remembering the caregivers who are left behind
A successful journey to remission is cause for rejoicing for those who walked through the darkest moments with us. I am grateful for my family and friends who lifted me during my cancer journey. I will continue to monitor my health, allowing others to walk with me. Blood cancer can be an ongoing battle for a lifetime for some that call for steadfast support. Tragically, it can also be deadly. Some do not survive.
In the wake of such a loss, caregivers left behind to mourn a devastating loss. It is easy to take for granted the simple act of surviving. Cancer survivors considered survivors from the date of diagnosis because they are living with cancer. We don’t talk about the survivors of a different kind, the survivors of loss.
The ones who walk with a patient, ultimately losing their battle, are also survivors. As a community, it is vital to remember the caregivers who survive a loss to cancer. The emotional toll on these survivors is significant. We should lift those who are left behind. Accepting support and raising each other through times of trial is meaningful.
How long did it take to be properly diagnosed?