I sometimes wonder how intensely people worry about me when it comes to my health. Often, others don’t want to show us their real emotions during cancer – and even during post-treatments – so as not to overwhelm us. I am so caught up with my own cancer mess, finding ways to cope and moving forward, that I forget that others around me are also trying to do the same. I am referring to those who hold our hands when we walk the cancer path. We often lean on them, but who do they lean on?
I will always have so much respect for caregivers. It’s a very difficult job and, when someone commits to doing it, it’s not only a sacrifice but a big act of unconditional love. Sometimes the commitment of being a caregiver goes beyond cancer treatments. My fiancé was and continues to be my caregiver.
I often wonder if caregivers get dismissive comments about their emotions and fears, the same way we cancer patients do. My guy does. His loved ones have wondered why he – we— haven’t fully moved on from this cancer mess when treatments are now behind us. But I am not done with cancer and he continues to be my caregiver.
Unless you’ve been a caregiver, I am not sure you fully understand their level of commitment and fear, because they’re scared too. Lately, I’ve been trying to ask more about my partner’s feelings. I don’t recall us ever talking about his emotions because we’ve been focused on my well-being. What I know is that he hasn’t moved on after my cancer diagnosis because he can’t. He struggles the same way I do at times. Every oncology appointment I go to he experiences anxiety with me.
He hasn’t been himself for quite a while now but neither have I. What really prompted me to question his state of mind was something that happened in the middle of the night while we were away recently. We were trying to sleep but the room was chilly. I was too tired to move. He covered us both with the blanket. I still wasn’t moving but I was awake. I noticed he gently touched my shoulders as he leaned forward to see if I was awake. When he saw I didn’t move, he placed his fingers in front of my nose to feel my breathing. He did this for a while too, to make sure. I eventually moved so he would know I was alive.
This made me reflect about his fears and how he really feels about being with someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Although I have my assumptions, I am not sure I fully understand the complexity of his emotions because I am too busy trying to understand my own.
I worry about his state of mind because he basically doesn’t have anyone to talk to. I am lucky that I have other patients who provide me with a lot of support and understanding. I am also not afraid to reach out but he is the type to keep things inside which can be unhealthy. Could this be a testosterone effect? I don’t know but I need him to be mentally well. I may need to help us reach some level of confidence.
Thinking about my partner’s fears, I’ve come to realize I didn’t know them all – and how intense his feelings were. He is the type to not want to burden anyone with his problems but this isn’t helping us.
I’ve also realized that I have abandoned him in some way. I have even suggested he doesn’t have to be part of this cancer mess if he chooses not to be out of my own frustrations. These words hurt him.
I feel guilty because I am not sure I am there for him as much as he is there for me. I depend on him emotionally and he is so focused on me but I haven’t been able to offer the same level of support. I sometimes hide through my blog and my writing because I guess in a way I am also scared to reach a level of normalcy and get too comfortable in a situation that isn’t promised. Ever since my cancer diagnosis, I am afraid to hold on to anything too tightly. And I am afraid of what might happen to my guy, holding on so tightly to something that may not be there forever.
My guy is afraid of losing me. Everyday. I wasn’t even noticing his deep fears. He says that even when we are home together, I go away. I am often absent from him. I hide on my computer. He is right. I do. This isn’t helpful to our relationship. After some reflection I’ve decided to try to not be afraid to live a normal life with my partner. To hold his hands the same way he held and continues to hold mine.
Do you currently have a caregiver? What things have you done to support your caregiver?