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Care of the Caregiver
Patricia Scott, R.N., B.S., M.B.A.
About the author: Patricia Scott, B.S., R.N., M.B.A., led caregivers sessions at the 6th and 8th International Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Conferences. She started her nursing/research career 20 years ago at the Cancer and Treatment Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She later specialized in women's and infants' health care at the University of Colorado Hospital, Denver, Colorado, until her husband David was diagnosed with Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer in March 2002. She turned her energy toward learning and researching about thyroid cancer and became her husband's primary caregiver and advocate, until his passing on February 28, 2003. Patricia now is on the Golden, Colorado Chapter of the Board of the American Cancer Society; helps with the local ThyCa support group in Denver, Colorado; and continues to be involved as a volunteer for ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association, Inc., supporting and helping survivors, caregivers, and families.
The word "extraordinary" comes to my mind, to say the least, whenever I think of a caregiver.
For the most part you inherit this position. It shows up at your doorstep, sometimes unannounced due to a series of circumstances. Or you may freely volunteer for this position.
No matter how you acquire this position, it will partially or totally change your life forever………..
Once we're placed in this position, for most of us, it totally changes the focus of our lives. In other words, we put our needs, wants, goals, and dreams aside, for the needs, wants, goals, and dreams of our loved one.
You sometimes, without even knowing it, become part of that loved one….You eat, sleep, breathe, and feel every physical and emotional change with that person….You become that person's advocate and put your personal needs aside.
You feel their
hope and joy.
I have observed myself making statements such as
time we had a scan was last week."
Each day, long after the loved one's physical and emotional needs have been met, the caregiver goes on: by working on household chores, by caring for other family members, by keeping up with the financial side, and by making the next doctor's appointments, and more.
Through it all, the caregiver …..continues to be the backbone for the patient, for the family and for the thyroid cancer community.
Caregivers smile, they laugh, they bring hope to the table, they comfort each other, and they find humor in situations where little humor is left, just to bring a smile to a person's face.
So how can we take care of ourselves as caregiver?
Suggestions for Balance in Your Life
A person once asked me if I had balance in my life. I said, "You'll always be out of balance, but that's okay: the important thing is you keep dodging the meteors."
We have all heard the statement, "Stop and smell the Roses." But when we are in crisis, we may forget nearly everything we know.
Some people are familiar with the Serenity Prayer: "Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference."
As caregivers in this situation, it is very hard to accept the things we cannot change.
But nobody can take our HOPE away!
Hope Is Huge!
So while you are dodging the meteors……..and being strong for everyone around you, you need to take time to recharge your battery, so you can be strong for yourself, as well as for your loved one.
Examples of things that can help reduce the stress and help clear your mind, so you can function more effectively.