Breast Cancer Affects Caregivers Too!
Breast cancer affects the entire family unit. It’s particularly jolting when the spouse/partner runs the household. Whether early in the diagnosis of breast cancer or dealing with more advanced treatment (as in the case for metastatic breast cancer patients), becoming a caregiver for the family member that has always been “in charge” is no easy task.
There are the feelings of guilt. How can you, as the cancer caregiver, complain or need help when your spouse is the one going through so much fear and pain? And there is a feeling of helplessness because the caregiver may not know the daily routine, and can’t keep things “as normal” as he/she hoped.
It’s important to remember that the journey is different for everyone – patient and caregiver alike. The fear of loss is real for everyone, and finding ways to cope is critical. While not all spouses run out and start building a library of Ballerina images to share with the world, it’s important to remember that everyone needs help. The spouse, the kids, and even extended family members.
In a recent article from Women’s Health (Australia), husband Tim Hamilton points out that as horrible as his wife’s diagnosis was for him, it was also an opportunity to see his wife in a new way and a reminder that he needed to show her how much he appreciates her.
The journey for the woman is a difficult one because sometimes you do need to use ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’: surgery, radiotherapy (and chemotherapy in other circumstances), and in the case of my wife, taking Tamoxifen for 5 years, the latter I affectionately refer to as ‘Tammy’. ‘Tammy’ can be difficult for women in terms of side effects, and catapults a woman into menopause and its accompanying tribulations. This is why it is important to remind her that you love her… Read entire article
He jokes (or maybe not!) that he “sought help from people, and drank one or two margaritas during the weeks, to find a way through what one breast cancer survivor told me was the feeling of a “loss of control” on the part of the man, and the anxiety that comes with this.”
Finding Support for Breast Cancer Caregivers
Seeking support is critical for everyone’s mental well-being. If you or your family need help in identifying a source of support, we recommend CancerCare.org, one of the charities that the Carey Foundation has consistently funded through our efforts. They provide an amazing support system for the entire family. You can also contact For3Sisters.com, an organization that promises “you will never fight breast cancer alone”. The “Pink Fireman” and his wife lost three sisters to cancer, and are dedicated to helping others navigate their journey.That goes for everyone, and their Road to Resources program helps identify resources across every aspect of the breast cancer journey.
These organizations and many others are here to help. Caregivers need to be reminded, however, that they too must reach out for help.
Do you have experience with any other resources that are helpful for cancer caregivers? Share your stories or comments below!
Also published on Medium.Tags: Breast Cancer, CancerCare, Caregiver Resources, caregivers, caretakers, For2Sisters