I am aware this forum is primarily for those with the diagnosis of cancer; and we who love you piggy back on this site to get our own form of support. I am writing this post with the intent of sharing my current experience. It is in no way intended to offend those of you who have had, or are, physically fighting this battle. It is merely the sharing of a point in time of a caretaker’s battle to find her way through a disease that changes so much.
I have found this post treatment time to be, in some ways, the most depleting. Perhaps it is because the former 2 phases (diagnosis and treatment) were so active, that thoughts and feelings were very specific to the task at hand. As a caregiver my role was very clear even if it was a new role from that which I had in my relationship prior to the diagnosis of cancer. It was a shift that I needed to make and made willingly. It was a way to be connected. Now my role has shifted again, but it is a loss of a role. As Mark heals he is highly motivated to reclaim his independence, and his need to be cared for is abruptly ending. Now I am at a loss of two things: my recently acquired caretaking role and the “normal” of our pre-cancer relationship.
I am also aware of how isolated I am. Cancer is isolating. For 3 months our focus has been cancer and the fighting against cancer. I don’t fit in with everyone any more. Treatment days were “exciting” in that I was in a community of people who were in the know. My friends are wonderful, but don’t know, my family is wonderful, but they don’t know either, Mark wants to move away from all of this as much as possible (understandable), you all know, but I am not really WITH you when I sit in front of my computer. There is no going out for lunch, coffee, a drink. There is no hand holding, no hugs, no crying together.
I am aware the new normal will emerge and patience is the task at hand. I am aware that Mark will need to accept his “new self”: how he looks physically, how he functions physically, how he thinks about life, how he recovers from the physical, emotional, mental trauma of all of this. Until then I think I will have to wait…and there will be an aloneness in that.
I am the saddest I have been in this whole process. It all seems to be sinking in. It is ironic as Mark heals and gets stronger; I am depleting and fighting feelings of depression. Over shadowing all of this is my awareness there is no guarantee. All of this pain, all of this upheaval, all of this fighting; and no one, NO ONE, can say, “It will be alright”.