by Dianne May, president & CEO
One of my favorite authors, Louise Penny, recently wrote this: “my books, while clearly and happily [are] murder mysteries [they] are really about duality. The gap between what is said and what is felt. The public face and the inner truth.”
The gap between what is said and what is felt. How often have you felt trapped in that place? Wanting to have an honest and authentic conversation with someone, but worried about how he or she might react. It’s scary to set aside social conventions and expectations in order to share deeply personal thoughts and feelings. What if the listener is uncomfortable? What if I can’t find the words I need?
Maybe you’ve been the person waiting for another to open up and share. You sense there is more to be said, but you don’t want to force your loved one to talk if she is not ready. The truth is she might be waiting for a sign from you that it is okay to share her feelings.
Some people need time to prepare for conversations and some need only the right time or place. Humor might make it easier for him to start a conversation. And a simple question might provide the right opening for her. However we find the way to traverse the gap between our public faces and inner truths, sharing our true feelings with people whom we love and who love us, is a good thing. Is there a gap you want to cross?
by Gail Hamm, Program Director
The caregiver is the unsung hero in the medical journey. Caregivers provide hands-on care and encouragement. They may provide care as an act of love, from a sense of duty, or out of feelings of guilt. Whether caring for a loved one at home or in a nursing facility, the truth is that nothing is the same as it was before the illness.
Schedules revolve around the needs of the patient. Hard choices abound: Is my loved one safe alone while I am at work? While I run to the store? While I head to the mailbox? There are frustrations over added laundry, money worries, lack of help. Many find it extremely difficult to ask for help and therefore create even more challenges for themselves.
As the caregiver becomes more fatigued and frustrated, feelings of resentment may arise. Previous relationship problems only complicate matters. Will I care for this person who has caused me so much pain in the past? Am I not justified in walking away? Guilt feelings abound, sometimes paralyzing the caregiver into inaction.
Additional problems arise when the patient’s needs are greater than the caregiver’s ability to provide that care. If the caregiving lasts so long that there appears to be no end to the journey, the caregiver may become overwhelmed and feel ready to give up.
Conversely, caregiving can be a most rewarding experience. It is an act of love that can draw people closer together and deepen love and understanding.
No one has to “go it alone.” There is help available if both the patient and caregiver are willing to be open to other options. Call a Cancer Services advocate for assistance. Nothing is the same as it was before the illness, but it can be good.