Real Life Cancer Caregiving - Bend or Break?

Bend or Break

Last two weeks have been tough. We didn’t get good news from the latest scan results. Add to that, an unanticipated surgery to resolve new vascular issues and painful lymphedema in the leg  – a gift from radiation we cannot return.

Whether it’s side effects from treatment, abnormal blood work – whatever – there’s always something calling for attention when living in a house with cancer.

It’s not a matter of what if.

It becomes what is.

Just when we think we’ve been given a small break to catch our breath and digest a new reality, something else happens.

There’s nothing that can prepare you or your loved one to hear the words “you have cancer”.  We’ve heard it twice and both times, it feels like a punch in the gut.

When cancer metastasizes, you hear other words and phrases like: “it’s spreading”, “new lesions”, “minimal options”, and “months left”. These feel like punches to the heart.

Instead of breaking, we bend.

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.

We bend by calling upon our strengths to accept what is and choose to move forward. There’s so much we cannot control, yet so much still within our abilities.

  • We can decide whether to move ahead with a treatment – or not.
  • We can control how much cancer shows up front and center every day…because sometimes you have to create space to function.
  • We can choose to ask “what’s important to us?” and have the courage to live it.
  • We can plan ahead – no matter how hard  – as a gift to each other.

Bending doesn’t mean giving up or losing hope. Yes, there are moments when we complain about the circumstances. But we quickly realize it’s a waste of energy and precious time.

What we’re choosing to do is ordinary, not extraordinary. We can all learn and develop this strength within.

Being immersed in every step of the cancer journey can be distressing. Some people believe it’s a blessing. I think it’s rugged and raw. There’s no roadmap to pave the way – you adjust as needed. It’s changing how I experience life as a woman, wife, partner, friend, daughter, sister, and leader.

What helps us to bend?

We lean on our trusted friends and support system. We have goals and wishes we are working towards. We seek to show up with thankfulness, compassion, courage, and confidence. We rest. We encourage each other.

Some days are harder than others yet every morning, we get out of bed and choose to give it a “go”. And we will keep going until he no longer can.

Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. – Vivian Greene

What helps you to bend and bounce back when facing life challenges? Share your comments.

Resources on Resilence:

About Secondhand Cancer

Secondhand Cancer was created to equip cancer caregivers and their loved ones with real-life perspective, practical tools, and resources so that we can all better cope with the daily demands of living in a house where cancer exists.

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