This post is directed to caregivers. I am learning a great deal from visiting with patients in the infusion center lately and I would like to share some of my insights with you.
First of all not all cancer is the same, just like not all people are the same. While the majority of people I meet want to do whatever it takes to get well, there are those who resist treatment. They show up and go through the motions but I can tell by their body language and/or they tell me in private – it’s too hard for them, or they are only getting treatment to make their loved ones happy. If they really feel this way, no amount of chemo, radiation,or surgery will make them well. They have to want it and no one can force them. Some decline treatment citing religious reasons. Whatever their reason, we have to remember it’s their body, their life and ultimately their decision.
As caregivers, I believe we have to honor the wishes of the patient no matter what. Even though I have experienced cancer treatment I only know how my experience made me feel. I am stubborn and a fighter. Its easier for me to express anger than sadness. Sometimes I even feel empowered when I feel angry. Instead of feeling scared (although I did have my moments) I was determined to get well and didn’t let cancer define me. I even told my family that I didn’t want to hear the word “cancer” spoken around me.
But that is my experience and my journey. I can’t expect others to view their life and their illness the same way as me. This was a hard thing for me to grasp, but I get it now. I want everyone to get well but sometimes that just doesn’t happen. So, I have decided to be there for the patient and honor their wishes, even if they choose to stop treatment. What they need is love and understanding. Afterall, this is their journey and we are just along for the ride.