The Forgottens

14 Jan

When someone is diagnosed with cancer or serious illness, we tend to rush to their aid. We pray for them, call and send cards, and ask what we can do for them.


But what about the caregivers?

What about those selfless servants who give tirelessly of themselves to love and care for the patient? They tend to get overlooked and forgotten, but there is no doubt they need as much prayer, love and encouragement as the sick.

The trauma of watching someone you love struggle with a serious illness can be overwhelming, to the point where they may find it hard to think about their new reality or cope with everything they are feeling. Yet, they have no choice but to be “on” each day caring for the needs of the person they love. And then they collapse into bed at night, exhausted both emotionally and physically from the demands of being a caregiver.

As the patient, I know how crazy easy it is to fall into the it’s all about me trap because when you are diagnosed with cancer…it truly becomes all about you. Your doctor’s appointments, your blood tests, your symptoms, your pain level, your emotions, and your needs. I get it, and I am blessed beyond comprehension with a husband who makes it all about me and what I need.

But I can’t help but feel for the non-vocational nurses – the caregivers who sadly stand bravely by as someone they love suffers and sometimes even dies. Those are the ones we can’t. They put on a brave face because they don’t want the patient to see how scared they truly are. They say they are fine while inside their heart breaks to see someone they love struggle in such a difficult way. We rarely see their tears or even acknowledge their fears, but they are there.

If you know someone who is being cared for right now, why not take a minute today to send the caregiver a note? It could be just the encouragement they need. Being the patient is easy (relatively speaking). Being the one watching and helping and doing is hard. They want to “fix” things, but can’t. They want to ease the physical pain, but can’t. They want to cure their husband, wife, son, daughter or parent, but can’t.

Being the caregiver is one of the toughest jobs in the world. Just like the patient didn’t choose their illness, the caregiver didn’t choose this role either – but they do it with a willing heart overflowing with love. Thank God for them.


6 Responses to “The Forgottens”

  1. Catherine (Facing Cancer Together) January 14, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    Great post. FCT has a blogger named Don who was a caregiver during his wife’s breast cancer treatment, and it’s quite something to hear his side of the story. There are so many emotions to wrangle, adn you are right – caregivers often go unsupported . . . or even feel shame in admitting their struggle. That’s just not right. Acknowledging their expereince is a very good idea.

    • rachturner January 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      I just found his blog – Riding Shotgun – love that! Thanks for pointing me to his writing, Catherine.

  2. Dolly January 14, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    So true Rachel. I have been on both sides and I have to admit being the patient is easier than being the caregiver.

    • rachturner January 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      Yes, you have Dolly. :) I agree – it’s “easier” to be the patient.

  3. Andrew January 15, 2013 at 6:20 am #

    Wonderful post – I always thought my lymphoma was harder on my wife than me for a number of the reasons above. I came to the conclusion that my cancer was not about me, it was about us (including our kids and other close family and friends), and that helped make me more sensitive to their needs.

    • rachturner January 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

      So true, Andrew – cancer is about “us” – the whole family, including friends who are affected by our diagnosis. As much as our world shifts when we are diagnosed, their worlds shift in mighty ways, too.

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