Question: Can you tell us about the challenges and the benefits of caring for your
loved one? What has enabled you to be a caregiver? How do you find support? What advice would you offer other caregivers?
Answer: Some of the challenges have included:
- all of the self-education we had to do immediately after diagnosis.
- the trust we had to have in the doctors and surgeons.
- the trust my wife had to have in me that I am the man I said I was.
- the challenge of knowing what my wife needed and to what degree and when.
- the balance between keeping up with the latest information and moving on with life.
The benefits have included:
- fresh perspective on what is important.
- proof positive to ourselves and each other that our love and dedication is exactly what we said it was in our vows.
What has enabled me to be a caregiver:
- I think it's either inside of you or it isn't. My job is in the human services/medical field and between that and being very involved in raising 2 baby girls, I think my wife knew that attending appointments and doing research and providing direct care to her post-surgery was right up my alley. It was helpful that we have a dedicated group of family and friends who took my wife to multiple treatments/appointments and helped with housework and cooking.
You need to learn to allow people to help you. This is not always easy for some of us.
My advice for other caregivers:
- Love your wife. Hold her and look into those beautiful eyes just like you did the day you promised your world to her -- and deliver. Deliver whatever. Deliver everything. If you have little kids, show them how a man takes care of his family. Be a model for what your little girls should look for in a man. Be a model for what your little boys should dedicate themselves to being for their families. Be a rock. Even if you're scared. ESPECIALLY if you're scared. Be a tough sonofabitch. Your wife has no choice not to be. You need to join her.
- Be understanding. Be patient. We cannot imagine the pressures our women are under. Everything you do and say must facilitate the recovery process. Now is the time to put away pride and just be supportive. Her job is to recover. Your job is to help her do that.
- Just be there. I believe that a big part of being a good dad or husband is giving up your most finite resource freely -- your TIME.
- Plan. Help you and your wife/family to move forward by planning. Then execute those plans. Years later you will look back and see all of the wonderful things you did/times you had and you will both be glad you didn't relinquish control of your life over to this coward we know as breast cancer.
--Colt45, Caregiver to wife