As a caregiver, it is easy to focus solely on your loved one and to forget yourself in the process. How can you fully support the cancer patient if you are drained or depleted yourself? Remember that it is very important for a cancer caregiver to ‘wear your oxygen mask first’?
Wear your oxygen mask first
The cancer diagnosis blows a big, unexpected hole in your energy supply. It’s like being on an aircraft which was flying smoothly, all under control, and suddenly the cabin pressure drops due to some unexpected turbulence. Your loved one starts gasping for air, demanding your intense and focused attention. Thankfully, the oxygen-masks drop.
Now remember, just as they instruct on all flights, to “put on the oxygen-mask FIRST yourself” before you try helping anyone else.The logic is simple. You are no good to anyone if you yourself run out of breath.
Caregivers need care too
As a caregiver, it will be hard to remember to ‘Wear your oxygen mask first’ in the months to come. The cancer treatment with its physical/ emotional drain on your loved one will be huge and you will be drawn willy-nilly to be the strong, unflagging, rock of support for him/her. But don’t forget to take care of yourself too, wear your oxygen mask first.
- Make sure you nourish and energise yourself very well from day 1. No matter what, make sure you eat fresh, balanced and healthy meals on time.
- And don’t forget regular exercise, ideally at least 20-30 mins, thrice a week and even better in natural surroundings. Most hospitals/ clinics are closed spaces with poor energy and the atmosphere of illness and despair doesn’t exactly perk one up.
- Is there a breathing-meditation routine that works for you? Or listening to particular music? A mature, cheerful friend/mentor YOU can reach out to regularly? Take time out daily/weekly to tank up on your own oxygen and energy supply.
You will find that you can take much more and give much more.
- What are some of the physical and emotional challenges of being a primary caregiver?
- How are you taking care of yourself … while also taking take of your loved one?
- What are your ‘stress-busters’: Yoga, meditation, listening to music, spending time with friends, pursuing a hobby or something else?
More from this series
|Title||About the article|
|Lesson 1: Wear Your Oxygen Mask First||The cancer diagnosis blows a big, unexpected hole in your energy supply. It’s like being on an aircraft which was flying smoothly, all under control, and suddenly the cabin pressure drops due to some unexpected turbulence.|
|Lesson 2: Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat||Cooking for a cancer patient can be far more challenging than many books indicate. Sometimes it can take over your life and make you wonder if this is all you are now going to do.|
|Lesson 3: Acknowledge and Accept the Struggle||Another unexpected aspect of the cancer journey is when you come up against your own, not-so-heroic side, and that of the loved one you are taking care of.|
|Lesson 4: From Pain to Transformation||Pain can serve you, if you can only stop long enough and pay attention to the incredible learning and growth that you are experiencing.|
|Lesson 5: Co-dependence – Don’t Slide Into It||Most times the loved one who gets cancer and for whom you are the primary care-giver is already in a deep relationship with you.|
|Lesson 6: Relationship as a Path to Wholeness||Looking back, the very struggle of having to reclaim my power from Vijay after having spent over five years of not just being his wife and the mother of his children but also his primary care-giver and chief source of emotional support, did deliver something extra-ordinarily beautiful for me.|