|At the airport, headed to Mexico.|
Sometimes caregivers get kicked in the teeth.
As a caregiver, whether it’s some sort of cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, or whatever, we try our best to make a difference in our love one’s life. Most of the time we succeed. We rub a sore muscle, we fetch a late night snack from the kitchen, or we lend a shoulder to cry on. We attend every doctor’s appointment and help remember that conversation we had just this morning. Successes, though minor in the big picture, successes none the least.
This is not my first encounter as a caregiver to cancer. Fourteen years ago cancer picked a fight with me in the form of breast cancer with my wife, Lea. Like a rookie in the NFL, I was thrown into a world of learning the entire playbook the day after the draft. New terms, new teammates, new concepts, all focused on helping me help her. Together we studied the tendencies of our opponent, historical records that might shed some light on our own playbook that would form our attack on this disease. Surgery, chemo, radiation, we are winning. Then our opponent pulls out the trick play we never saw coming. Brain metastasis. A few months after that, BOOM, the game is lost.
Recently, I sent my current wife, Patti, who has Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML), on an all expense paid trip to Mexico that was gifted to her from a long-time friend. What a blessing for her to spend a whole week relaxing in a five star resort on the Mexican shore. We spoke many times and she FaceTimed us a few times. She looked and sounded GREAT. Long soaking bubble baths, resting on the balcony feeling the warm surf breezes, relaxing poolside with a bowl of ice-cream with sprinkles. No complaints.
Travel days were a little harder, but for the most part the trip was just what the doctor ordered. I was feeling pretty good that her quality of life was improving. The New Normal that we (she) have been dealing with since before her diagnosis seemed to be leveling out. I was very encouraged. On returning home, she was excited to tell the whole family about her experiences in Mexico and how much she missed us all. The second night home, I asked the question I always dread asking. …
“How are you feeling, Honey?”BOOM, reality hit me in the face! It seemed the stresses of home had returned her to the New Normal we have become accustomed too. It was like getting kicked in the teeth. I could not help feeling like it was my fault that she was feeling as bad as she has felt over the last year and a half. It seemed to me and my pea-brain that while she was away, she felt better than she did when home.
In no way do I blame her for this setback. She has the courage of David in the fight against this giant. I read more than a few comments on Facebook where patients are ready (or have already) to stop their medication, giving up on the playbook, because of their quality of life issues. I can’t begin to question their decision because I don’t really know their true story. But I am grateful that Patti has the fortitude and the strength to continue fighting the fight. I have been blessed to be the caregiver of two strong women who love and trust God. And when I think of them and their fight, only one verse comes to mind.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14Now that’s a hell of a playbook!