Caregiving nightmare

June 11, 2009 by  
Filed under News

I was just up visiting my cousin who has Stage 4 bone and breast cancer. She was diagnosed a month after her husband had major spinal chord surgery. His prognosis was a year at least on disability. They have 2 kids ages 7 and 11. The situation has gone from bad to worse. She has had a double masectomy, a full histerectomy, and over 30 radiation treatments since late December. She has to work 20 hours a week to keep her job. Her husband has gained lots of weight and has no desire to get off of disability and go to work. Both of his parents have passed away in the last 6 months. He is supposed to be caring for the kids and helping his wife. But he is feeling sorry for himself and so the son gets him and his sister off to school. While I was there, the boy broke his collar bone and so he could not get up with his sister for a few days. So because the dad does not get up to help, my cousin had to get the daughter off to school. Yet, that week she was told that the bone cancer may have metastasized and she is in a lot of pain. Hence, you have someone who could die, trying to work, care for her kids, and manuever around a husband who does need help (more psychological than physical). The kids try and navigate their lives around the mines that have been put in their way of having a “normal” childhood. They have lost both sets of grandparents in the last 2 years and may lose their mother before her time. The kids are the caregivers of each other, sometimes of their parents fights, and they need a lot of tender loving care. The father in his own way has tried to care for the children, his dying mother, and in a selfish way his wife. My cousin needs the support of her immediate family in a way they do not understand because of her spirit that pushes her to work and not seem as though she has “cancer.” She is tired. She knows that her husband does not understand the needs of the family but appreciates that he thinks he is “getting it right.” But, the kids are suffering because of the inability for the adult world to think beyond their needs and see that all of this is getting to the them. How many children are out there that are getting care but no one understands what they need?

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