In October in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness I will post a daily blog with a reflection about breast cancer. The reflections will stem from something in the play. (All quoted lines are text from the play.)
Day 17: One cannot minimize the impact of Susan’s breast cancer on our lives – Susan and my lives. One could argue that all of us – Susan, me, our son and daughter-in-law and our daughter ALL had breast cancer. Yet it can be hard to acknowledge this fact. I worried that my focus on my feelings and my experience can be viewed as unfair to Susan. “I (was) not the one with breast cancer, I do know that.” is indeed a line in the play. Yet we all have our own experience. It can be hard to acknowledge our own needs at a time when we just want the person we love to get well. I remember having to tell each of our kids, and then Susan’s siblings and then my siblings about her breast cancer and dire diagnosis. Our kids were the most important and most challenging. I did NOT want to do it over the phone. I was able to meet with our daughter who lived nearby. Our son was in Army JAG School in Charlottesville, Virginia and the timing didn’t allow me to wait until he got home. Each of them adjusted their lives too. Our daughter had to adjust her schedule while in dental school to be in town often. Our son was on active duty and was able to have his orders changed from serving a year in Korea to being stationed locally. I also met one-on-one with everyone who worked in my growing company to explain the situation and that I would be taking a lot of time off. “I had one of the few wireless modems on the market in 2000,” so I was able to be with Susan in her hospital room and at every chemotherapy session over a sixteen week period working on my laptop when there was a moment. There are many stories of how illness can destroy a family. We grew stronger.
Stat of the Day: According to the National Cancer Institute divorce rate are about the same for people with and without a cancer history.
Task of the Day: Have a family meeting. Don’t wait until someone is sick. Do it first – and make it a happy occasion and yet be willing to have conversations about each other about what might happen if someone got sick. Many families suffer deep fissures when there are differences over handling a serious illness. Meeting and talking with each other first can reduce the likelihood of such problems.
Resource of the Day: Check out EmblemHealth of New York Care for the Family Caregiver web resource. In particular, read the stories of other caregivers. The resources are valuable wherever you may live.