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…

Hospice and palliative care

The battles of the war against cancer are waged, daily within the bodies of patients young and old, wealthy and poor. There we have made great strides. In 2014, “UK death rates for breast, bowel, lung and prostate cancer combined are down by almost a third in 20 years.” (1) Yet, like any war, the casualties at the hands of this disease are great. That’s when hospice and palliative care enter the picture. Curing vs. Healing There comes a time when we need to switch from curative treatment to healing efforts. We can heal, even as we die. There can be healing of relationships, spiritual healing, letting go of the things that never should have been clung to in the first place. Hospice and palliative Read more…

No two cancers are alike.

I recently read an article about John McCain and Jimmy Carter.[1]  Apparently, a lot of people wonder why their cancers could have had such different outcomes. The thinking behind this is something most cancer patients encounter throughout their journey. People often don’t realize that no two cancers are alike. Today I’ll share some of the reasons for this, and what it means for cancer patients and their loved ones. Where cancer originates is what kind of cancer the patient has. One of the reasons no two cancers are alike is because they originate in different areas of the body. For example, Jimmy Carter was diagnosed with melanoma. This is a dangerous form of skin cancer. John McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma. A glioblastoma is a Read more…

Radon

You can’t see it or smell it. It’s in the air, both outdoors and in, as well as in drinking water from rivers and streams. It can be deadly. It may sound like something from a science fiction story, but it’s real. It’s radon. Why is Radon a Big Deal? Each year, it contributes to as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths.[1] It’s a leading cause of lung cancer, second only to smoking and is the number 1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Non-smokers account for 20% of annual lung cancer deaths in the US[2] What is Radon? Radon is an odorless, colorless, highly radioactive gas. The alpha radiation released by radon is the same as that of plutonium. It’s soluble and easily penetrates materials Read more…

Your Self Care

We hear a lot about self-care, especially as caregivers. Yet many of us continue to feel guilty when we practice it.  Why is that? What can you do to change your attitude toward your self-care? Everyone else comes first. As caregivers, we become good at looking out for the well-being of everyone around us, while neglecting our own well-being. It’s an easy trap to fall into. As your loved one is being diagnosed, your sympathetic nervous system kicks into high gear. This is the fight or flight mechanism that turns on when you need to make rapid life and death decisions. It’s understandable that for a while, all of your attention will be focused on your loved one. The problem is that we often forget Read more…

Cope with Stress

Here are 10 healthy ways to cope with the stress and anxiety that often accompany caregiving: Play a Game 50% of all men and 48% of all women play video games[1], including me. Of course, playing an analog game is another healthy way to cope with stress. You can play a board game as a family or if you prefer to play solo, a deck of cards can provide lots of enjoyment. While many people view this as a waste of time, there are positive things about gaming (in moderation).  One of them is stress relief. Games provide an escape from the pressures you may be under as a caregiver. It’s important that you don’t spend so much time playing games, that you fall behind Read more…

Walking

Caregivers often experience greater depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, than their non-caregiving counterparts. Aerobic exercise, such as walking, has been proven to improve your mood while reducing stress and anxiety. Even as little as 5 minutes of this movement can make a difference. Walking increases the feel-good neurotransmitters, endorphins. Caregiver health physical tends to suffer as well.[1] One of the best, most available ways to improve your health is to start walking. Walking improves your overall physical health. This is important because an additional health issue will only add to the things on your plate. Mindful Walking Mindful walking is an excellent way to combine the physical and mental benefits of movement and mindfulness. This video will take you through one way of Read more…

Vacation

Our family has always enjoyed traveling. Sometimes we will take a vacation as a family, while at other times. My husband and I will plan a getaway for just the 2 of us. When Dan was diagnosed with cancer, vacations changed. We had to work travel around his treatment schedule. But, it became more important than ever to make memories and to enjoy the other benefits of getting away for a while. Exposure to other cultures Whether in your home country or abroad, you will find lots of people who live differently than you do. By learning about different cultures, you think more deeply about your own traditions, beliefs, and values. This is an important exercise. You gain insight into human psychology, and often feel Read more…

Should've, Could've, Would've

Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve is the root of senseless guilt. I… …should’ve pushed him to see the doctor sooner. …would’ve been a better husband if only… …could’ve been more understanding. …should’ve known better. …would’ve had our water tested if… …could’ve driven mom to the doctor that time if only… Refocus All of these things have a way of pulling us back into the past when what we need to be focused on are today and tomorrow. We spent years wondering just what it was that caused my husband’s cancer. This is pretty common. It’s our way of trying to make sense of something so senseless. We’ve picked through his life to try to figure out when the turning point was. He wasn’t a smoker. Was it Read more…

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