Cancer can be as hard on the caregiver and the family as it is on the patient. At first, Mrs. Tiwari couldn’t accept that her daughter has breast cancer, but then she embraced the caregiver’s role.
Taking charge of the situation
The caregiver may not undergo the experience of actually having the disease, but they too have to face the emotional ups and downs and confront the possibility of losing a loved one. Despite this a caregiver needs to, as far as possible, maintain a positive state of mind because their attitude will affect the attitude of the person they are caring for.
When Dr. K.Tiwari was diagnosed with breast cancer, her mother, M.Tiwari was initially stunned, but soon took charge of the situation.
“I left for K’s place immediately, as soon as I heard. But after the initial shock, I decided that she has to get well, nothing doing. I told everyone to think positively. Nobody will weep in front of her; always smile and act normally.”
Keeping the faith alive
K, however, was really shaken. For a few weeks after her diagnosis, she was traumatised and she kept worrying her husband, her daughter and everyone else.
Her mother was the one who reminded her about how so many ladies who were breast cancer thrivers, were doing very well and leading normal lives. This helped reinforce her own faith as well as daughter’s that she too would overcome the disease.
“I knew that she’d be alright.”
Research about the cancer, treatment options and side-effects
M also did some research on the subject and found that if diagnosed early, the chances of a successful treatment and full recovery are very high. She also understood that surgery and chemotherapy would take a huge toll on her daughter’s body and mind – and that it was necessary – there was simply no way around it. This realisation also helped her cope with watching her daughter suffer from the treatments, almost as much as the illness itself!
“I had been reading about it in the newspapers and magazines, I knew it was the standard treatment – and unavoidable – to help K get better.”
Looking back at the cancer journey
Upon asking M how she felt when her daughter was cured, her answer was simple. With a smile she said:
“I knew it all along, from Day 1!”
Had her journey had changed her in any way? She responded with an infectious laugh:
“I am the same … maybe even more positive about everything. Life doesn’t run smoothly for anyone, it has its ups and downs, you have to take it in your stride. Of course, I don’t want those days to come back and I’m happy that K is back-to-normal. I have no regrets.”
Message for other caregivers
What she would like to share with others who are also caring for cancer patients:
“First, you have to keep a positive attitude. Second, family support is very important. Third, serious illness can bring the family closer together (like it did K and me)!”
So if you are a care-giver, remember that you haven’t chosen this role … it has been given (gifted?) to you. As M did, keep the faith, do the research, console, support and try not to break down yourself!
Just like the mind and body affect each other directly, so do the patient and the care-giver! The care-giver’s positive frame of mind can work wonders for those they are caring for.
Which caregivers do you know, who radiate this kind of positive energy?
- As a caregiver, how can you get past the initial shock of the cancer diagnosis?
- What can you and other family members do, to help your loved one remain positive?
- Seeing your loved one suffer can be heartbreaking. How can you keep your own faith and hope alive?
- What lessons you have learned on the cancer journey,? How can you use them to improve your loved one’s quality of life … and your own?
Winona Laisram is a student of communications at Mt Carmel College, Bangalore. She says “I enjoyed working on the Cancer Awakens articles because along with providing information to others, I learnt a lot about myself. I also had an opportunity to improve my writing skills and to have my articles published in a credible, public forum.”