Mesothelioma Caregivers Around the World United by Common Bond
- Cancer & Caregiving
- May 28, 2013
If you are caring for a loved one with mesothelioma, the odds are that you are feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, especially if your loved one has recently been diagnosed.
I understand how you are feeling. When my husband, Brian, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, I was shocked, confused, frightened and sad all at the same time.
As soon as the doctor mentioned mesothelioma, I remembered that Brian had spent some time in Wittenoom (an asbestos mining town in Western Australia) as a child. But I could not understand how the asbestos he was exposed to at that time could be responsible for his mesothelioma diagnosis, so many years after he had left the town.
I wondered then, and I still do now — why did it take 45 years for the asbestos dust he inhaled in Wittenoom to turn into mesothelioma?
Similar questions are undoubtedly asked by many unfortunate people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of exposure to deadly asbestos.
To my knowledge, no one has come up with the answer.
My Main Concern Was for My Husband
When the shock wore off a little, my main concern was for Brian. Though he still looked the same as he always had, I knew he was gravely ill, and an overwhelming urge to look after him came over me.
Without realizing it at the time, it was at that very moment that I became a caregiver.
I remember feeling quite helpless. Nothing had prepared me for my role as a caregiver. I did not know much about mesothelioma or what symptoms Brian would experience, nor did I have experience in nursing. All I had was my love for Brian and a fierce determination to help him in any way I could.
What Exactly is a Caregiver?
Wikipedia describes it in the following way:
“Someone whose life is in some way restricted by the need to be responsible for the care of someone who is mentally ill, mentally handicapped, physically disabled or whose health is impaired by sickness or old age.”
I feel there is much more to it than that. I would like to share with you a poem I have written especially for caregivers.
I call it “No Greater Gift” because helping someone else to live is the greatest gift we could hope to give. I hope you like it.
My journey of care lasted for the two years of Brian’s survival. As I cared for him, my initial feeling of helplessness was replaced by an inner strength that I had not known I possessed. This helped me to overcome the many challenges I faced along the way.
‘In Sickness and Health, ’til Death Us Do Part’
Never were truer words spoken. Walking beside Brian as he traveled through terminal illness was a life-changing experience for me. I am so grateful that I was able to care for him in our own home right up until his death. Making it possible for him to die at home was the last precious gift that I could give him.
In my following blogs, I will be exploring these issues more deeply and sharing with you the methods and tools I used to overcome them.
My blogs will include a wide range of topics, including:
- Adjusting to change after prognosis and changing roles within the family unit
- Dealing with the reaction of friends, co-workers and acquaintances
- How to talk to family and friends about your needs
- How to care for yourself as well as your loved one
- 10 things you should know about mesothelioma patients’ feelings
- 10 things you should know about mesothelioma pain management
- How to manage symptoms associated with chemotherapy
- Respite for caregivers
- Discussion and insight into a number of complementary therapies and how they can help both you and your loved one
- Sexuality and the cancer patient
- Caring for a terminally ill loved one at home
- Allowing for your loved one to die at home
I am here for you. Please leave your comments below or on Facebook after you have read my blogs. Contact me personally by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if there are any other topics related to caregiving that you would like me to discuss.
My next caregiving blog will be about adjusting to change after prognosis and changing roles within the family unit.
Please come along, and check it out. I look forward to your comments.
Lorraine Kember is the author of "Lean on Me," an inspirational personal account of her husband's courageous battle with mesothelioma. She is an accomplished public speaker in Australia and is passionate about sharing her journey with cancer. Her website can be found at www.lean-on-me.net.