Yep, Cancer. Cancer is defined as:
-the disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body
-a malignant growth or tumor resulting from the division of abnormal cells
-a practice of phenomenon perceived to be evil or destructive and hard to contain or eradicate. (Think racism, sexism, hate, anger, etc. AM NOT BEING POLITICAL HERE)
Whew! Cancer tends to spread when fed. How is it fed? Well, physical cancer may be spread by increased sugar in your diet or ingesting carcinogens (knowingly or not). Who will get cancer? That’s the thing…..cancer doesn’t discriminate as to who develops or not. I have seen heavy life-long smokers remain cancer free and never develop lung or any cancer. I also have seen folks who “live a healthy lifestyle”, or “I did everything right” develop and fight for their lives; sadly some lost the battle. So in short, anyone can develop cancer.
I want to speak to you from the patient as well as caregiver side. I have had the privilege to be on both. Yes, I said privilege. Privileged as the caregiver because the patient was willing to allow me into their circle and trust me with the information given. Have held their hands, wiped their tears, held space for them to vent, and held space for them to be completely still and present. Along with being their for the patient, I have been there for family and friends as well. Guiding them along this path of, “what do I say?” “I have to fix this for them!” “I am so mad!” “I will deny this has happened till I see the proof!” There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” cancer. Cancer is cancer short and simple when it comes to the effects on the mind, body, spirit.
Think about this……when cancer is present, there are doctor visits, lab draws, tests, biopsies, waiting for results. ALL of this puts the body on high alert of danger. And the process isn’t one and done like ACC Basketball! It’s repetitive, long, and draining. Touch is imperative to aid in the healing of mind, body, and spirit. All the while, working to keep the disassociation from taking hold.
Working bedside while a patient was receiving Chemo, seeing clients around their treatment schedules, working with clients who have been in remission but not to the 5 year mark yet, and being there when the patient took their last breath taught me the importance of touch and compassion. Empathy stronger than anyone can every have.
As a patient myself…..well let’s just say ugly crying and panic upon panic upon panic happened. The what ifs and whys came loud, fast, and hard, And the anger; OH THE ANGER!!!! That part is real. Wanting to throat punch someone when she said, “Well everything happens for a reason.” and “You poor thing, you just weren’t taking care of yourself properly.” REALLY! Like this is my fault????? Y’all know I am a dirt worshiping, tree huggin, hippie chick…..but I am human above all. But I truly wanted to throat punch her!
This is what I want you to know…….
Caregivers, DO NOT break down and put all your anger and fear on your loved one. They do not need to hear and take that on. There is too much going on in their bodies to worry about your baggage. Your job is to allow them space to scream, cry, get angry, worry, be silent, etc. Your job is to love and support them. However, you need your own support system so you have a space to do all of the above.
Patient, DO NOT try and be strong for your loved ones. Ugly cry, scream, get angry, etc. ALL of this is allowed. DO NOT blame yourself for this. Your job is to concentrate on the process happening and steps that will need to be taken to get you well. Know that this is real, medicine has come so far, tests and treatments are so much better. AND above all, one step at a time. Don’t try and figure everything out at once. And know that it’s OK to not want anyone touching you during all this. Know the dread and depression is real and OK.
No one likes to hear the word Cancer. After that has been announced, those attached to us get real uncomfortable and fearful so they say and do things that aren’t helpful. The process of treating becomes methodical and routine. What isn’t discussed, is that cancer effects everyone who is attached to us. It’s a ripple effect that doesn’t pull any punches. Sure, you can blame the physicians for knowing this or God for “letting” this happen. At the end of the day, it’s up to us to take control of our health; mental and physical. Seeing the patient, our loved one, as a person is difficult but necessary.