Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm here for you so don't be scared...

I'm almost upright at this point! I cannot believe how unbelievably rotten I have felt. The worst part about this bull**it cancer is what it is doing to my family and friends. I have clearly seen the fear in their faces these past few days while I have been so sick. I can try to reassure them that I will get through this and be just fine but they are only words. I think that the person diagnosed with cancer actually has an easier time than do family and friends. Having experienced that paralyzing fear after Mike's accident does give me some insight. It's the fear of being left behind and adrift. What happens to me? How do I carry on? There really is no way to take away that fear.
See, a diagnosis of cancer changes a family forever. Figuring out what's for dinner or what your plans are for the weekend are suddenly less important. Family and personal values are questioned and priorities are tested and changed. Unsettled feelings and arguments may resurface during a family's struggle with cancer. Often a family must sort out and revisit old, unresolved feelings before they can start to battle cancer together, as a family unit. Cancer can cause role changes in the family, too. The head of the household may now be more dependent on other family members. Others may need to work outside the home or work different hours. When family members take on new roles, the way they interact within the family can change. New responsibilities may overwhelm some family members.
Parents might look to their children for support. If the children are old enough, they may be asked to take on more responsibilities within the household (thankfully Hannah now has her license). These requests often come when children themselves need support. How a family handles cancer is depends a lot on how the family has dealt with problems in the past. Those who are used to communicating openly and sharing feelings are usually able to talk about how cancer is affecting them. Families who solve their problems as individuals instead of a team might have more trouble coping with cancer. Cancer treatment includes care for the patient and the family, not just the cancer. I'm still trying to find the balance of taking care of myself and taking care of them. I don't think I've been taking very good care of them lately.

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