A mother holds a microphone, interviewing her daughter

Caregiver/Cancer Patient Interview (Part 1)

The other day I was thinking about my daughter and her diagnosis of cancer. I don’t know how I would have felt if I would have learned I had cancer at such a young age. I never really asked Crystal how she felt at the time, I guess hearing her feelings would have been hard for me to handle. I wish I did though, she needed to have someone that would just listen. I decided I would ask her to do an interview. Maybe she could get out some of her thoughts from back then and maybe she could help another person in her situation or a caregiver. I thought about what questions might be pertinent and came up with eight. The first four are written in part 1 of this interview.

It’s been awhile since your diagnosis, but can you talk about how you were diagnosed?

Everyone has a different story of how they were diagnosed and the symptoms they felt that led them to seek medical attention. As for me, my symptoms were pretty textbook of classic Hodgkin lymphoma, but unfortunately, I was not taken seriously by the first doctor I saw and was told that what I was experiencing "definitely" wasn't cancer. I left that appointment feeling relieved, but looking back I wish I advocated for myself better than I did. It's so important to listen to your body and if something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't'.

Would you mind sharing your feelings when you heard the words, ‘You have cancer’?

It took me about 6-7 months to get a proper diagnosis from the time I first realized something wasn't right until the day I got my official diagnosis. On one hand, I was relieved to finally get some answers. Of course, that wasn't the answer I was hoping for and at the time it was my worst-case scenario. Knowing what I was dealing with helped me focus on the next steps though. With all that said, I was in shock when I first heard those words and it didn't fully hit me until I got home and I cried my eyes out.

Can you give some advice to people hearing those words?

I don't think there's anything I can say to make it easier on anyone. Every type and every stage of cancer is tough to deal with and you need to process your emotions in any way that makes sense to you. There's no right or wrong way to get through a diagnosis.

I was your main caregiver. Can you let other people know what you felt was beneficial, and what I could have done or changed to make it easier for you during that time?

I was so lucky to have you helping me through every step of the diagnosis and treatment. I really don't know how I could've gotten through it all without you. I'll always be grateful for you coming with me to all of my appointments, cooking meals for me, and making sure I drank enough water when I could hardly get out of bed. It was so helpful that you always did things like my laundry for me because even that seemed like an impossible task many times.

Some of my favorite memories from that time was making silly videos with you in the oncology waiting room while we would wait for my appointments or getting a bite to eat before I would get chemo. Those things helped to keep my mind off what was to come because of how much anxiety I would feel before an appointment and I still have all of our silly pictures and videos.

I would've loved for you to be a little more compassionate/affectionate. Going through cancer was very tough on me mentally and I would've loved for you to acknowledge that and just give me a hug from time to time. For anyone reading this, my mom is very tough and is a fighter which was a good thing in many ways. I just remember thinking that I always had to stay so strong but I didn't usually feel very strong so keeping those emotions in was tough. Sometimes I really just wanted to break down and cry and know that it was ok to do that.

It’s sometimes difficult to hear the truth

Crystal’s last response was tough to hear. I do feel as though I have to be strong and have difficulty showing emotion. I learned a lot from her last comment and if you are caring for someone, it may help you also.

Check back for Part 2 of this interview.

Wishing you health & happiness.

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