Caregiver needing care

October 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Articles, News

Well it has been a while. I went up and got the two kids Cody (10) and Elizabeth (6) so that their mom could continue tests to determine her complete diagnosis. These kids have been through so much in the last year. Their Grandpa died from a complication from surgery in March 2007. Then within 21/2 months their Grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. She died in December after their mother, their aunt, and the rest of the family including them, spent as much time as possible taking care of her. Their father hurt his back around March and then was diagnosed with spinal chord tumor which was operated on in early May. He was to be off work for at least a year because he lost much of the feeling on his right side. Within 5 or 6 weeks, their mom felt a lump in her breast and then she was diagnosed with breast cancer but not yet given the battery of tests to determine the severity. By the time I picked up the kids in early July, she had decided no matter what she would have a double mastectomy due to the family history of her mother’s death and our cousin on the same side of the family. I wanted to bring the kids down to CA for a few weeks until my cousin and her husband could deal with the changing roles and life issues without the kids. I wanted the kids to have time away from words like “cancer” “surgery” and the yelling that was going on because of the stress of the year. My goal for our time together was to get them to express their feelings about their mom, dad, their relationship, and their grandma’s death. But as the diagnosis got worse and worse, I realized I needed to prepare them to help take care of their house in a way to minimize germs for their mom as she went through chemo and possibly a few surgeries. It may me think about the challenge of being the caregiver (my cousin to her children and husband recuperating from major surgery) and now facing a disease that has killed your mother and your cousin knowing that you will move from full time caregiver to caregiving when you feel well and being cared for by those you feel a responsibility to care for. It was definitely hard enough to care for Cody and Elizabeth without me working, feeling ill, or stressed by other life factors. What must my cousin feel. She helped care for my aunt and knows both the pain of caring for someone who had always cared for you and watching that person lose her dignity. When we think of caregiving, we typically think of an elderly person or someone with a chronic illness or disability or a illness leading to death but what about the caregiver that will have to accept the care of his/her children or spouse that she/he had always cared for. The pain of not being there for them because you are too tired. The sadness associated with not being able to seem upbeat and spunky during the happy times of your young children. I can only imagine what she is going through. She has Stage 4 breast and Stage 4 bone and a possible spot on her kidney. What type of help does a caregiver like my cousin need? Those of you out there that have witnessed this phenomenon how was it handled. I know my cousin is still working and trying to do as much as possible for her children. She is upbeat and has a positive attitude but her situation is so very different that caring for a middle aged person with adult children. My cousin is a great mom and right now she is only concerned about how this is effecting those she has been caring for, not how she is doing. She is much like her mom. When I was taking care of my aunt she tried to keep most of the family away because she had always been the rock so she wasn’t sure that everyone could handle the chores needed. She found out that all of us rose to the occasion. But how do children that have seen so much death in the last year, rise to the occasion and not have it effect their school work and relationships with others?

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