It has been just over a month since Marsi's services and so many people have been reaching out to check on me, the kids, and Marsi's family, that I would like to again thank all of you for the strength and support that continues to be sent our way. Losing Marsi has been devistating to us all. She touched so many of us through her wonderful words and caring demeaner, that I like to think her spirit lives on with this blog.
Generally, I am doing well, finding my way without Marsi by my side. But during one of my harder moments of coping yesterday, I came across a blog entry that Marsi wrote for a fellow blogger last December who has a website that focus's on patient's and their caregiver's. I, myself had never read this entry until yesterday, only now remembering that Marsi had told me she had written an article about me for another blog. With everything going on, I completely forgot she told me, so it remained hidden until now, where it was found during a casual google search.
For those of us that read Marsi's blog, it gives us another look into her fight with breast cancer and her struggle with me undertaking the role as her caretaker. For me, it is a found treasure. As I think back through our last year, she often would appoligize for having become such a burden, but to me, she never was. She never could be. She was my partner in life and this was our road together, hard as it turned out to be. I never thought twice about being her caretaker and I know she loved me even more for that. She was my wife, the love of my life, my cutie pie. For my Marsi, I would and did everything I had to do.
Please read, or for some of you re-read, this article Marsi wrote and take from it that each and every one of us are only so strong. That it is OK for any of us to accept help when life becomes overbearing. Be it help from family and friends, counslers and/or doctors, all we have to do is ask to recieve the support and strength we need to move forward in this life.
Rob Cares: Caring for Caregivers
Guest Blog: Seeing The Caregiver Through The Patient’s Eyes
My Caregiver, How Lucky Am I?
December 20, 2011 by Marsi White
My husband Steve and I are unstoppable together.
It is 4:30 in the morning. I am awake like usual, with insomnia and a botched sleep schedule as a result of my chemo. My husband Steve is asleep. I grab his hand for a moment and let it fall gently back into the bed when I realize I intend to get out of it. He awakes for a moment and asks if I am okay, then almost as quickly falls back into a deep slumber. I retreat upstairs to make coffee and start my day, hoping my Twitter friends are awake for company.
This is our routine. He worries about me and tries to make sure I nap. I worry about him and try to be sure he naps and/or at least sits down for a couple of undisturbed minutes a day. His days are full of stress and anguish, mostly. For this, I have no recourse. Cancer has taken care of that.
Truth be told, Steve has always strived to be my “rock,” openly stating this as his goal since my initial diagnosis of breast cancer in 2009. However, when my cancer recurred in my liver the summer of 2011, there was a strong silence of this declaration. You could cut the air in my house with scissors because stress hung like sheets from floor to ceiling. An angry rant on Facebook made me discover how mad he really was…and not at me. At this ugly disease.
About a month ago, the mood lightened around here when Steve declared, “The last go around I handled your sickness wrong. I tried to be the rock. Now I realize that even the rock gets weathered in the storm.” His new goal and attitude leaves him wanting to help other caregivers and wondering why more is not said between them.
“I know what guys need. I also know what guys will do and not do. Maybe I should start a blog,” he stated one afternoon. A science teacher by trade, I knew that he was born to help others. But what I could not pin down is how he would find the time to keep a blog with all of the extra responsibilities at home and the dedication and long hours he puts into his job. Finally, he and I decided we would start with contacting the YoungSurvivalCoalition to find out how he and I could help the cause.
I feel no great joy to report he has learned many of the same lessons that I have. Tough lessons, but lessons nonetheless. He has learned that when people ask personal questions, it’s that they really want to know and it is OK to let them in. So, tell them. Find confidants that you can pour emotions into. He has learned that you may be surprised on who these confidants may be. He has learned that he is not yet comfortable seeking professional help, but there is generally not enough time to do so…hence, the importance of the aforementioned confidants.
Most importantly, by my side, we have learned that cancer is more than an inconvenience. It will forever be a part of our lives, like the unwanted pest begging for attention. He states that once he figured that out, the disease was much easier to accept for what it is and what it is not.
Together, we also learned that cancer cannot destroy everything. For example, we are not just caregiver and patient. We are husband and wife, mommy and daddy. We are a sister and a brother, an uncle and an aunt. We are good friends to many, as well as colleagues. Cancer will never take that away from us.
When I think about Steve as my caregiver, I have pangs of guilt on what our lives might have been, should I have not gotten sick. But then I also think about what cancer has put in our lives that has made us stronger than we have ever been. A whole new meaning to the vow we took on that June day in 1996, “for better or for worse”.
We are blessed. Together, we are unstoppable.