When I was caring for David, I felt so helpless. I couldn't take his pain away. I couldn't take his worries away. I certainly couldn't take his cancer away. I wanted to help him any way I could. I'd offer lots of times. How about I clean the house? Does your daughter need a ride somewhere? What about groceries, can I shop for you? Every time, the answer was a gracefully delivered "no, thanks, honey, just you being here is helpful to me." While I was happy my presence was comforting to him, I was crushed I couldn't do more. On days when David couldn't get out of bed, or when I couldn't stand it to not be doing something, I just did stuff for him without asking....cleaning, errands, etc. I know he appreciated it but even more so it helped me feel helpful.
Fast forward 11 years and I became the patient. Surrounded by caring and loving family and friends all wanting to help me. Numerous offers of help and I suddenly realized how David felt. So grateful for their support, but paralyzed by the thought of losing my independence and of becoming a burden or an item on others' to-do lists.
I turned lots of offers of help down, despite knowing how it feels to be in their shoes, AND despite being in need of the help being offered. But about halfway through treatment, something happened that opened my eyes to the dangers of turning help down in times like this. Not only did I need the help, but THEY NEEDED TO HELP and I was taking away the one thing they felt they could do to contribute to my well being.
This journey is NOT only about the patient. It's also about everyone who loves them. Life is about love, relationships, togetherness. Don't let cancer change that. As a patient, understand that loved ones don't just *want* to help, they NEED to. Let them. Caregivers, understand that it's difficult for your independent loved one to accept help - they don't want to be a burden. Just help and do what you can. Don't just offer, DO. Because although they may turn down offers, they will appreciate everything you follow through and do - especially if and when you aren't requiring them to decide what you can/will do for them.
Love each other through it. That's what life is about, in good times and bad.
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)
Love and blessings,