Perhaps there is no greater, more selfless labor of love than that of a family caregiver.
Mesothelioma caregivers spend countless hours coordinating oncology appointments, preparing food, giving medications, fluffing pillows, and helping their loved one find comfort.
Providing care for a family member often means putting yourself second.
Being a mesothelioma caregiver is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes caring for a loved one will stretch a person to their physical and emotional limits.
There are touching moments that reach the most tender depths of the heart. But there are also heart-wrenching moments that rock caregivers to their knees.
Each minute spent caregiving defines a person’s strength of character and endurance.
Throughout my father’s battle with mesothelioma, my mother served as his primary caregiver.
I saw the sacrifices she made. I watched as she stood by him, supporting him through treatments.
She held his hand when he felt scared and cried with him when he felt defeated. She remained by his side until his journey came to an end.
As a family unit, I know there were times we failed to show her all the gratitude and appreciation she deserved.
As members of the mesothelioma community, we support each other.
We celebrate joyous victories and mourn tragic losses. Perhaps we owe our heartfelt thanks to all those who give everything to care for our loved ones.
While we might call or send an occasional text, maybe our precious caregivers deserve a more profound sentiment.
Labor Day celebrates the American worker. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Congress declared the first Monday in every September a national holiday.
The typical American worker clocks out after an eight-hour workday and has a couple days off to recuperate from the physical and mental toll of a 40-hour work week.
Family caregivers do not have the luxury of scheduled time off, overtime pay or union benefits.
While some recognize Nov. 13 as Caregiver Appreciation Day, it is not a national holiday.
This Labor Day consider celebrating mesothelioma caregivers. These individuals might be the hardest working people among American workers.
Gifts that deliver a message of appreciation and gratitude don’t have to be expensive or even a “gift” at all.
Sometimes all a caregiver needs is to know someone notices their effort and hard work. Finding a thoughtful way to say, “Thank you” or “You are doing an amazing job” might bring a smile to the face of the caregiver in your family.
Ideas for expressing respect, appreciation and gratitude to the caregiver in your family include:
A Simple Sticky Note: A cleverly placed sticky note could make a caregiver smile when they are feeling a little down. Writing a small reminder of thanks and placing it on a mirror or on the coffee maker could help the caregiver feel proud of their work.
A Special Treat: Knowing your family caregiver’s preferences is an essential part of this expression of gratitude. Pay attention, noting how they like their coffee, preferred brand of tea or favorite candy bar. Sometimes a little caffeine or sugar goes a long way in providing fuel for the weary caregiver. A special treat may convey the message that you understand their hard work.
A Prepared Meal: Providing one-on-one care can be a demanding job, and squeezing in meal preparation time can be difficult. Easing that obligation, even for one meal, might be one less worry on a caregiver’s mind. Ordering takeout for delivery, bringing a sandwich, or toting a ready-to-bake casserole might allow a caregiver to take a personal moment, rather than spending it in the kitchen.
Kind Words: The hustle and bustle of daily life and providing care doesn’t negate a person’s need to feel appreciated. Don’t assume your family caregiver knows how you feel — tell them. Avoid offering caregiving advice or “constructive” criticism. Look them in the eye and tell them exactly how much they mean to your family. Show them you notice the extensive efforts required to provide adequate care for your loved one facing cancer.
When families hear doctors diagnose aggressive cancer such as mesothelioma, they also hear a call of duty.
They must advocate for each other, support one another and fight the disease collectively.
In our efforts to be supportive of the person facing the diagnosis, the necessary support for the primary caregiver may take a backseat.
Make time to tell the caregiver in your family how vital they are in the fight against cancer.
Let caregivers know your family loves them, appreciates their hard work, and respects their strength and endurance. Sometimes it only takes one reflective moment to positively impact a loving caregiver’s day.
Always remember, a person who feels loved and appreciated is better equipped to share those sentiments with those for whom they provide care.