By heatherericksonauthor.comThe Erickson Family
The second month of grief

As the second month after my husband died, rolled around, I was having a surprisingly difficult time. So were the girls. There was an unusual amount of irritability between them over trivial things. And we were being thrust into a life that felt foreign to us. Absolutely nothing seemed to be the way it was when Dan was alive. Grief/Loss Groups during the Second Month I joined a couple of grief groups. So far, this hasn’t changed anything, but it is a process, like all things related to grief. And, it has given me an opportunity to meet other people like me who are in a lot of pain and, like me, want to be able to cry with others who need no explanation as Read more…

Exercise lowers stress

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 Lowers Stress. You may not be able to change the things in your life that are causing you so much stress, but you can do things to improve your ability to handle it. There are several ways that exercise lowers stress. Don’t worry. I’m not advocating that you beat yourself up at the gym every day, but regular Read more…

Depression

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 D for Depression in Caregivers. When my husband was first diagnosed with cancer, all of my attention and energy was focused on finding out as much as we could about his disease and the potential treatments. With each new treatment, we adjusted to different side effects. We tried to help our daughters through the roller coaster of emotions they were experiencing. We Read more…

Critical Family Members

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 C for Critical Family Members. I am fortunate to have a close family who is very supportive, but critical family members are a common source of stress for caregivers. Critical Family Members As a caregiver, you are likely stressed and at times feel underappreciated and unsupported. You may also be dealing with caregiver guilt. Having critical, family members can be especially difficult. Read more…

Boundaries

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 B is for Boundaries & Caregiving. Sometimes as a caregiver, you can get so focused on taking care of your loved one that the boundaries between you and the patient can get blurred. Setting boundaries in your caregiving relationship can ease both caregiver burnout as well as the guilt that both the caregiver and patient often feel as a result. “There are Read more…

Anger and Grief

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 A is for Anger & the Grief Process. When someone you love has cancer… You grieve. Anger is very often one of the early manifestations of that grief you may think of grief with the death of a loved one, but grief is a response to loss. This could be the loss of your health, your job, a relationship, or a lifelong Read more…

fatigue is why cancer patients are so tired all the time

This is a picture of my husband, Dan, during a 2-hour visit to the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. He became so tired on this trip, that he had to lay down. Most people experience fatigue at some point in their lives, but it usually doesn’t last long. Once you sleep or even just quietly rest for a while, the fatigue goes away and you feel refreshed. Have you ever wondered why cancer patients are always so tired? Healing takes energy I remember the fatigue of early pregnancy. When I asked my doctor about it, he said that building a human being within my body was the equivalent of climbing a mountain. I had never thought of it that way. It takes that same energy to Read more…

Talk to Kids about Cancer

How do you talk to kids about cancer? It’s not always easy to talk to kids about cancer (especially when it’s their mom or dad who has it). But it is important. One of the things that can make it hard to talk to kids about cancer is that they often keep their feelings hidden. One reason why they do this may surprise you. Protecting their Parents As kids grow, they become more aware that their parents have fears and feelings of their own. When a parent is diagnosed with cancer, kids will try to ease their mom’s and dad’s stress by keeping their own worries to themselves. It’s their way of protecting their parents. Unfortunately, this can cause a child’s imagination to run wild. Read more…

Ways to Offer Help when a Friend has Cancer

Have you ever gone to the store, or a restaurant and struggled to decide between all of the great options in front of you? It’s a common problem known as “choice overload.” This term was first introduced in the book, Future Shock by Alvin Toffler in 1970. With all of these great options, choosing becomes overwhelming. It takes longer to make a decision and often the decider gives up, altogether. This is really simplifying Toffler’s theory but it’s one of the reasons why many cancer patients and caregivers decline offers of help from friends and family members. Today, I will share how to overcome choice overload and find ways to offer help when a friend has cancer using multiple-choice care coordination. Where the burden of Read more…

caregiving

This April I will be participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Every day (except the 2nd -5th Sundays) bloggers post to their blogs something that pertains to a specific theme (usually) as well as the letter of the alphabet assigned to that day. Today is the day when participants reveal their chosen theme, or if they are going to go themeless. Since I am deep in the trenches of caregiving, this year Facing Cancer with Grace’s theme is… Caregiving Five years ago, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. His doctors didn’t expect him to survive very long. I was a new caregiver, unsure of how to approach this new role. Since then, I’ve learned that caregiving is hard. That might seem obvious, but Read more…

Praying for someone who has cancer

This week we got the news that my husband’s recent scan was not good at all. We will eventually be going down to the Mayo clinic to see what they recommend in the way of an experimental treatment. In the meantime, he is doing relatively well, despite how bad is insides look. People often ask what they can do. I say, “Just pray.” I don’t mean that to sound like it’s some last resort. It’s really truly uplifting to know that people are praying for us. If you are a Christian, praying for someone who has cancer is the best thing you can do. But how? With a problem so big, it can be hard to find the words. Here’s a list of ways you can Read more…

a shift in perspective

Today we’ll continue to look at resilience and how when things get hard, we can bounce. We will look at 4 ways a shift in perspective can make a big difference in our lives as we face cancer (whether our own, or cancer in the life of a loved one). Avoid seeing crises A shift in perspective doesn’t mean going into denial or sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich (which by the way, they don’t actually do). It just means that you reserve crisis mode for a real crisis, rather than situations that might someday turn into a crisis. Some people are natural worrywarts. They do what a former pastor of ours called horriblizing. They find the drama in every situation and Read more…

grieving flowers

everyone grieves differently, but people grieving often have a lot of similar experiences and feelings as they go through the process. This is a snapshot of my first month. The first month after my husband died was awful. I’d just lost my best friend, the person I did everything with, my business partner. We were together 24/7 and we loved every minute of it. Then, suddenly, he was gone. Maybe not so suddenly, since we had 6 1/2 years of cancer before he died, but it was still a shock to my system. Death always is. Trauma There was also a level of trauma that we all experienced, not just from the day of his death, but from all of the days that preceded it, Read more…

cancer survivorship tip

When people hear that my husband has survived for 6 years with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer they often ask me what our top cancer survivorship tip would be. So in honor of his 6th cancerversary, I have put together some of the best advice we have used and continue to use. Cancer Survivorship Tip #1 Get Educated I don’t mean that you should read articles filled with pseudoscience. You should find out exactly what kind of cancer you have and what the newest and older treatments for this cancer are. How can you expect this cancer to affect your life in the near future? One of your best resources will be your oncology team. That brings us to the next tip… Cancer Survivorship Read more…

Paperwork

Are you familiar with the different types of paperwork you should have in place when you have an illness like cancer? Today I’m going to give an overview of some of them and how we approached things like healthcare directives, wills, powers of attorney, and the POLST. Healthcare Directive Back in 2012, my husband filled out a healthcare directive. This paperwork has many names and is commonly called a “living will.” I recommend that everyone have a healthcare directive and that they fill it out while they are healthy. If you wait until you are sick, it is far more difficult to do because you will feel far more emotional about it, and likely overwhelmed. Because doctors had just diagnosed Dan with a terminal illness, Read more…

Fear and Guilt

Dan and I first met one another in a Sunday school class ten years ago. We had both been through painful divorces, so starting over was a bit scary. Still, it wasn’t long before we knew that we were meant to marry. It was a whirlwind romance! All too soon, we would find out that even the best of marriages can be invaded by fear and guilt, especially when you are facing cancer. This is a story I’ve shared before. It bears repeating because fear and guilt are things that most people struggle with, including those of great faith. Our friend, Rick Back in 2009, The bus company that Dan worked for offered health insurance to its employees, but the policy premiums were too expensive for Read more…

Book Review

Recently, my sister-in-law gave me a gift, the book “Tear Soup,” by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeLkyn. Many people had recommended it to her as especially helpful for talking about grief with children. So, last night, I read it to my 3 daughters, ages 15, 17, and 20.  It gave all of us some time to reflect on what we are all going through in the wake of my husband’s death, without the awkwardness that often accompanies digging deep into your emotions and baring your soul. Meet Grandy The story follows Grandy, an older, “somewhat wise” woman who has suffered a great loss. To deal with this loss, she makes tear soup. Tear soup is a beautiful metaphor for grieving, which is carried through the Read more…

talk to children about cancer

It’s important to talk to children about cancer-even with a “bleak” prognosis. My husband, Dan was stage IV, metastatic, when he was diagnosed. So, we have always been told that his cancer was terminal and that we were buying time. The best we could hope for was that he would be labeled NED, No Evidence of Disease (like remission). It’s especially difficult to talk to children about cancer when you are given such a bleak prognosis. Our Story One year into his treatment plan, Dan was declared 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 means that the cancer is still there, it’s just too Read more…

Job's Friends People Blame God

Have you ever heard the term, “Job’s comforters?” If you’ve ever experienced a tragedy, especially one with your health, you’ve likely gotten a dose of what Job’s friends dished out to him. Job was a blameless and upright man (Job 1:1) who got caught between God and the devil. Satan thought he could get Job to turn on God, but God knew Job’s heart, as he knows all of our hearts. He trusted Job enough to allow Satan to do his worst. So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the Read more…

Metastasis

One of the most frightening words a cancer patient can hear is, “metastasis.” We learned in the post, Cancer Cells: Juvenile Delinquent Zombies, that one of the reasons that cancer is such a deadly disease is its ability to metastasize, or spread from one part of the body to another. Depending on what kind of cancer the patient has, the most serious form is known as “metastatic.” How Cancer Metastasizes The place where cancer first develops is called the primary tumor site. From there, cancer spreads locally, invading nearby healthy tissue. If too much time passes between the emergence of the primary tumor and treatment or treatment is unsuccessful, cancer cells will break away from the primary tumor site. They then move through the walls of Read more…

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