By heatherericksonauthor.comThe Erickson Family

Category Archives: Family Relationships

Grieving During the Holidays

While the holidays are meant to be a time of joy and family gatherings, when you are faced with cancer, there is a real mixture of emotions that come at this time of year. That’s because whether you or a loved one currently has cancer, or you’ve lost someone close to the disease you will feel the full effects of grieving during the holidays. Our Story We discovered my husband’s stage IV lung cancer at the end of October, just a couple of days before our 3rd wedding anniversary, a couple of weeks before his 52nd birthday, 3 weeks before Thanksgiving, 2 months before Christmas, and then 2013, the year he would statistically die.  In 2 months’ time, we trudged through all of these days Read more…

Holiday Stress

Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas usually mean getting together with family. It’s part of what makes the holidays special. But, it can also be stressful. Sometimes family relationships are strained, adding anxiety to the mix. What makes this worse? How can you cope with stress within your family, especially during the holidays? Part of it will depend on personality. What’s your personality type? Are you typically: Laid back, able to roll with whatever comes at you? Uncomfortable with changes in your life, even positive changes? Quick to see what could go wrong, and able to find solutions to those problems? Always able to keep a positive outlook, even if that sometimes means avoiding the possibility that something could go wrong? Prone to depression or anxiety, Read more…

survive the holidays

Surviving the holidays can be difficult when you or someone you love is literally trying to survive the holidays. This almost always means the celebration will look different. I’ve put together a few thoughts and tips to give you a leg up. To survive the holidays you must first accept that things will be different. You won’t be participating in the cookie exchange or Christmas caroling. Things that were once fun, are in this new reality, exhausting. Even if you do have the energy to do them, they may zap your reserves so that you’re left burned out. One of the best things you can do is to recognize that the holidays will look different this year—maybe from now on. That’s okay. Change is a Read more…

Grief in Children

Everyone will experience grief at some time in their life. It’s important to recognize that children grieve, as well. grief in children is often overlooked and misunderstood. Today we will look at grief in children and how we can help them to heal after a loss. “You may associate grief with the death of a loved one, but any loss can cause grief, including the loss of a relationship, your health, your job, or a cherished dream.” (Help Pages.org Grief and Loss) Most people think that grief is something that they’ll deal with when someone they love dies. In truth, the process of grieving begins at the moment you realize you of a loved one has cancer. This is a huge shift in your life Read more…

Faith and Cancer

Your children are developing their own sense of self, and their own personal faith. When a parent has cancer, their faith often goes through a period of questioning. How could God allow their mom or dad to have cancer? Where is God in all of this? Is God punishing them? We are often confronted with the question of why bad things happen to good people. People believe many different answers to this question, even within the Christian faith. Faith, itself is born out of questions. In the Bible, Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Questions are a matter of not being able to see the end of the tunnel. Faith is what keeps you Read more…

What if

Cancer can often feel like a roll of the dice. The unknown can be the hardest part of cancer and its treatment. This causes patients and their families to often ask, what if. One year into his treatment plan, Dan’s doctor declared that Dan was NED (having no evidence of disease). This is a term used to describe what people think of as a state of remission (in certain types of cancer). It is a wonderful feeling to be NED. Still, because Dan’s cancer was advanced and ultimately terminal, we had been told that it was only temporary and that at some point Dan’s cancer would rear its ugly head again. What If One thing that surprised me was how uneasy I felt, even during Read more…

when you have to watch your loved one suffer

I often write about the practical side of facing cancer. One thing I haven’t written about is what it’s like to watch your loved one suffer. It’s something that people try not to think about. Friends and family who don’t live with the patient 24/7 often miss the drama of middle of the night pain. This is a good thing. It’s not something that anyone would want to see and hear. Yet it falls to a spouse or other close caregiver to be there. This is also a good thing because no one should suffer alone. What is like, really, to watch your loved one suffer? The best way I can describe it is a feeling of utter helplessness. You want to make the pain Read more…

Daisy Letters

Do you have a child in your life in need of encouragement? There’s a young girl in England who would love to help by sending one of her Daisy Letters! How Daisy Letters Began Beginning at the age of 6 months old, Leanna spent much of her life in the hospital, fighting cancer twice. Her response to her personal trials was to help other kids who were facing difficult circumstances. She began the non-profit, Daisy Letters, with the goal of brightening up the day of the children who are going through tough times. Leanna does something rarely done anymore. She sends handwritten letters of encouragement. The effect is amazing! Anyone can nominate a child or teen, between the ages 0-19 years to receive one of Leanna’s Read more…

Ring Theory Circle of Support

The Ring Theory-Finding Your Circle of Support The Ring Theory was created by breast cancer survivor and clinical psychologist, Dr. Susan Silk Ph.D., and arbitrator/mediator, Barry Goldman. The gist of it is this: Comfort in. Dump out. Who you comfort, and who you “dump” your grief on (in other words, who comforts you) will determine what circle of support you reside in. Take out a piece of paper. In the middle of the page, draw a small circle. Label it with the patient’s name. The patient is in the center circle of support because the patient is the center of their cancer universe. It is everyone else’s job to support them. No one is allowed to dump on the patient. What does that mean? The Read more…

Having Pets

I grew up always having pets: Cats, dogs, horses, iguanas and other lizards, even a tarantula that survived over 12 years. My kids, on the other hand, haven’t had the luxury of living in a menagerie of cuddly critters. My two youngest are extremely allergic to nearly anything with fur.  Too much time with the wrong animal and they can wind up in the hospital—it’s happened. Fortunately, we’ve found an animal that no one is allergic to and we all love—gerbils! I was opposed to getting them in the beginning. Now, I’m their #1 fan. There’s good science to back up the benefits of having pets around. Having Pets can help the Elderly We have a neighbor who recently turned 92. She still walks her Read more…

listening to others

As a caregiver, it’s easy to get caught up in your own problems and miss seeing someone else’s. That’s a trap you don’t want to fall into. It’s just an invitation to your own personal pity party.  Sure, you need to talk to people about what’s happening, but there comes a time when you’ve talked too much. Then it’s time to listen. One of the easiest ways to encourage a friend is by listening. Ask them how they are doing. How is their family? It’s likely that they have something difficult happening in their life, as well, and could use a listening ear. Often people hesitate to share their troubles It’s common for people to feel uncomfortable sharing the difficult things they are going through. Read more…

Journal

As a writer, keeping a journal has always come naturally to me. I first wrote in a journal, after reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Ann Frank. I was touched by how she had one place to turn to when she needed to express her deepest held feelings, longings, and fears.  She was living in a small space with a lot of people and yet, the safest place for her thoughts was in the pages of her diary. Different ways to journal Since then, I’ve always had a journal of some sort. Although, the way I use them has varied. As a young girl, like Ann Frank, I chose to write down my dreams. Which boy did I have a crush on? How Read more…

Hug Someone you Love

I’m not a very physically affectionate person, but there are definitely times when a hug is the best medicine. There are plenty of reasons why you should hug someone on a regular basis. Reminders of Childhood Hugging someone harkens back to the safety of being a child in the loving arms of a parent or grandparent. When you feel as though one more thing will be one thing too much, and burn out is approaching, taking the time to hug someone you trust can make a tremendous difference. It can also open the door to a more intimate and transparent conversation about how you are feeling and what you need to get through this time. Hug someone to reassure both of you that your relationship Read more…

Young Adult Caregivers

I’m doing double duty this month during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Facing Cancer with Grace, I will focus on caregiving. I’ll also be doing the challenge at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, where I will share ways to increase your creativity. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites. While you’re here, sign up for my email list. Today’s post is E is for Exercise Increases Creativity. Young adults, ages 18-26 take a close second to infants, when it comes to being overlooked and under-supported, as they live with a parent’s cancer diagnosis. To drop them off the radar when they turn 18 is really a disservice to them. Even though their emotional and physical growth has slowed down, having an adult body does Read more…

How Cancer has Changed my life

We’ve been looking at resilience. Part of resilience is being able to look at how you’ve responded to a trial such as cancer. How has it changed you or your life—both for the better and the worse?  If you asked me how cancer has changed my life, I might tell you that I smile less. I know that’s not the “right” answer, but it is the honest answer. When Dan was first diagnosed there was a time of despair. It was like the world was ending. In truth, it was just our world, as we knew it, that was ending. Cancer has changed my life We learned to live with it. We adapted, became stronger in many ways. It progressively gots harder but we learned Read more…

Date Night

The first time my husband and I went on a date, it was to the local coffee shop. He was playing it safe. If the date was a flop, at least it wouldn’t cost him a fortune and the night didn’t have to run long. I was having a problem with my hearing. I could barely hear a word he said over the background hum of the shop. So, I smiled and nodded. Apparently, it worked because he asked me out the following week for dinner. Eventually, we got engaged. One night as we were on our weekly date, we were talking about our upcoming wedding. Dan told me that he intended to keep dating me. “Every week from now on, we are going to Read more…

Joyful

Homeostasis is defined as “a relatively stable state of equilibrium or a tendency toward such a state between the different but interdependent elements or groups of elements of an organism, population, or group.” [1] In other words, the different aspects of your body are working together to give you optimal health and stability. Emotional homeostasis just means that you have a balanced mental state. Nothing helps contribute to this more than a joyful attitude. Be Genuine You can be joyful while still being genuine. By being who you really are at your core, you are being true to yourself. Being genuine allows you to admit when things are difficult when you need help. It’s much better to be open about this than to hide it Read more…

recurrence

The metaphor of a rollercoaster is often used to describe cancer, and for good reason. The ups and downs of your emotions, your schedule and the status of your health affect a patient and their family from the moment you suspect there’s a problem. This is especially hard for children, who have far less information than adults do, about what’s happening, They depend on their parents to help them know how to respond to these peaks and valleys. The first thing you can do to help your children through a recurrence of your cancer is to assess how you’re handling things. The good times After enduring the hard times of cancer treatment and finally being declared NED, in remission, or even “cancer-free,” you want to Read more…

Understand Death

I’m doing double duty this month during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Facing Cancer with Grace, I will focus on caregiving. I’ll also be doing the challenge at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, where I will share ways to increase your creativity. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites. While you’re here, sign up for my email list. Today’s post is K for How Kids Understand Death. This post is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping your Child Cope with Your Cancer. In a recent post, we looked at Grief in Children from the viewpoint that grieving begins with a loss. It’s important to understand death isn’t the only thing reason we grieve. Unfortunately, for many families, Read more…

denial and Cancer

In the beginning, we heard everything the doctors said and read all the information on the kind of cancer my husband had. The word “terminal,” kept showing up, but we filtered that out. It didn’t make sense to us. We thought that if they could just blast those cancer cells to the moon with chemo, radiation—anything, then he would be okay. This myth only grew more solidified in our minds with each improved scan. When we saw the treatment was working, we thought there must be a chance he could beat the cancer. We were in denial. Nearly 9 months in, he was NED (no evidence of disease). Did the treatment work? Was his cancer gone? When I asked his doctor about it, directly, she Read more…

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