To my Beloved,
I am scared too. Stage IV is not what we expected. At times, my heart breaks. Anxiety and depression set in. I feel helpless that I cannot help you, cure you. I don’t know how to fix this, to give you “us” our old life back. They say “this” is our new normal, but I don’t want it! I want our pre-cancer life back where we only had silly worries like overdue bills, arguments about choosing what's for dinner, and the next Netflix binge.
I hear you say you have changed, I have too. I don’t look at life the way I used to. Maybe this diagnosis has brought us closer, maybe further apart. I hate cancer and I never say the word “hate” but now I say it fervently with venom coursing through my veins. Cancer doesn’t happen here, cancer does NOT happen to “us”. We have three kids and the youngest is only 3! What do we tell them? How do we explain this? I’m angry, vengeful at times, and jealous of those other families that cancer has yet to infiltrate. I know these aren’t good qualities but you must know, you deserve to know, my deepest thoughts. I’ve been holding them in for far too long.
I’ve listened to you use the work “scanxiety”. It’s real for me too. Those dreaded days of PET scans, CT’s and MRI’s. I hold my breath until the results, what if there is a recurrence? However, I never mention that, I don’t want to bother you with my trivial worries. I’d much rather make light of the day, maybe even laugh just to try and get your mind off of those what-if scenarios. I often countdown the days left until your next chemo treatment. I call those “our” good days -is that selfish? I hope not. However, I am not the one being pumped with poison and all the nasty side effects associated with it, but trust me when I look at you, I wish more than anything it were me. I wish I could carry some of that pain, nausea, and fatigue you experience just so you could feel like yourself again. I never knew I had this much to give or strength in me. Just when I feel like there’s none left, there is, and I keep going -sound familiar?
I’m thinking about joining a support group for caregivers. Is this okay with you? You appear to be so supported by your tribe that understands you and I want to feel understood too. I want to make sure that we both keep self-care in the forefront so that we can be better as individuals and as a team. I heard about a new organization called Project Life MBC that may even have activities for us both! When you feel up to it, let's take a look together and consider signing up!
Also, I’ve done some research and discovered a lot of cool information about palliative care! It’s NOT hospice like so many mistake it for. I wish we knew about this at the time of your diagnosis. Palliative care is a team of your healthcare providers who formulate a care plan designed specifically for your survivorship with cancer. This way we can ensure you have the best quality of life, symptom management, nutritional needs, spiritual support, and psychological needs met. Also, holistic care techniques are offered such as breath work, therapeutic art, music therapy, Tao Chi, yoga, and so much more! I was surprised to discover palliative care treats the whole patient, even our family as a unit. There are so many resources made available for our children and even our relationship/intimacy needs. Let's talk to the oncologist about this at your next visit. I think this would be great for all of us, don’t you? I’m excited to learn more! Remember, we are in this together!
With Love and Continued Support,
Peace, Love, and Open Heart Spaces,
Written by: Dana J. Georges
Therapeutic Art Facilitator
***Prior caregiver to her late husband, Jean, dedicated with love.
I have to honor my mind & body if I want to sustain this journey