I was just thinking today that (after 4 years) I am no longer treated as a cancer survivor by my friends. I am one in a group of women who support each other and have fun together. I'm not sure when my status changed; it has been gradual over the years. I know that if I needed help, they would be there for me, just as I am there for them. I don't talk about my problems with Arimidex or ask for anyone to accompany me to appointments, but if I needed to vent or wanted help I would ask. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Mixed Tumors, Breast Cancer Questions
Question for caregivers/friends/family/supporters
Asked by Nancebeth on Thursday, October 18, 2012
Question for caregivers/friends/family/supporters
I have no immediate family or spouse so I have been pretty much dealing with my cancer fight myself. My friends have been very supportive but I feel almost guilty continuing to ask for help. Everyone was great when I had my masectomy and reconstruction, and all through chemo and scans and MRIs. My scans were clear, however, I am struggling with the Tamoxifen. I am also scheduled for a modification of my reconstruction on Nov 1. I have not asked anyone to go to the hospital with me or help me afterwards because I feel like I have "burdened" them enough.
When is it too much for the caregivers to handle? Is it ever too much? Will they tell me if its too much? I am not good at asking for help anyway so I am just at a loss of how to handle this now that I am not currently in active treatment.
8 Answers from the Community
Ask for the help that you genuinely need.
Continue to do what you can do for yourself. I think that's important to be as independent as you are able.
Accept help that is given or offered with open arms.
Help someone else when they help, later down the road when you are able.
Caregiving is an expression of love as well as a way to help. Let them do it. It's part of being a human being with a pulse, and it adds to humanity as a whole. They always have the ability to say no. You could let them know up front that you want them to let you know if it gets to be too much for them, and they need to take care of themselves too. Some people would pressure or guilt others into helping. I think that's when it's over the top.
Allowing them to help you is also a way to let them into the ring to help you fight this thing. If you were walking down the street with them, and you were attacked, they would hit that attacker back. It feels good to pop a bully right in the nose.
For family, I think when one person gets cancer, everyone gets cancer in one form or another. We're in this together. It has been a lot, but my absolute privilege to be able to help my father a fraction of the amount that he has helped me, and many other people. I wouldn't have it any other way, except for him to be better. I have the easy part. Although I don't like the reason for it at all, I have learned a lot from the experience, and it's extremely rewarding to know that you made things a little bit easier for someone you care about. Think about that really. Are they going to drag you away from someone you love when they're suffering? You wouldn't be anywhere else if you could help it. What does it say about you if you do nothing, and just go on like a robot with life as it is scripted? I feel like I want to do something. Since I cannot cure cancer at this time, I will focus on whatever I can do.
If you have a lot of people there, you can also spread out some of the assistance among more people. I have even heard of websites that help to organize people to help, such as http://supportplanner.caringbridge.org/ though I have not used it myself.
For people who believe in God or angels or a benevolent force in the universe, or the spirit of Jesus Christ, then you can believe that it acts in the physical world through other people, and other animals. One day the caregiver will be on the other end, and need help. You will be there then, to bring some light into their world.
If you believe in science only, you can know that there's an important interest for survival in taking good care of your tribe, and your genes. In some way, we all rely on one another, and that positive energy put out into the world will be returned multiple times.
If you are Buddhist, you may believe that by helping yourself you help others, and by helping others you help yourself.
If you believe in the Beatles, in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make. http://youtu.be/7a_8F6gflxQ?t=1m30s
Hi my name is Pam. I am a 4-1/2 year survivor. I have been on Tamoxifen and will be thru with it in 7-1/2 months. I'm so ready. Yes, I too have problems with Tamoxifen, the weight gain, the fatigue and the "hot flashes", but i decided a long time ago it was better than cancer. I've always dealt with any "major" in my life with jokes and try to maintain a good attitude. My stepmother taught me alot of dealing with cancer, as she had 3 rounds with it and lost her fight in 2009. As far as care-givers, I have been on both sides of the cancer coin, a caregiver and survivor. You are not a burden, and if the shoe was on the other foot, you would be there for whoever needed you and not complain. I live in a small community in the country in central Arkansas. There is a lot of cancer survivors. I do my best to visit and encourage each one I can. Caregivers have a lot of strength and love and will help the best they can, but they don't know you need something unless you ask. Don't be afraid to ask. Good luck with your reconstruction surgery and continuing fight. God Bless.
You have some great advice (Freebird always provides great information) Not sure I can add much to it. I agree that independence is important but I also think having someone there to take this journey with you is important as well. I'm sure your friends understand that from time to time, you will need their help and I'm willing to bet that they're glad to do it. I wouldn't feel guilty about asking. Good luck to you!!
I cannot imagiine what I would have done without immediate family or spouse when I went through my treatment. However, I do remember raising my daughter by myself with no spouse or immediate family in the same state. You are an extremely strong person and woman! You should not feel that you are a burden - you are a friend in need. I'm sure that you would help your friends if they needed you and you would not think they were a burden - would you? Trust yourself that you have chosen friends that are strong and fantastic like yourself and that they are there for you as you will be for them. I'm sure your friends will let you know if they cannot do something, but it will never be too much. I hope all goes well for you and remember we are in this together! Many blessings sent to you.
Ask for help. See if you can have one or two of your friends be your advocate and coordinators. It is important that you have someone with you for emotional and physical support. I am a patient at this point in my journey, but I have also be a care giver for my parents and friends, being a caregiver is hard, but it is also rewarding. People want to help, they just need specific directions, as it were, enough time to adjust their schedules and being part of a larger support community is helpful for everyone.
everyone here has great advice. as they say: never be afraid to ask for help. that is what friends are for. they will let you know if they can't help....in the meantime, though it is humbling, acknowledging that you can't do everything by yourself is a huge step. sounds like you've made it that far....allow your friends to help you carry your burdens. as they say, you would do the same in a heartbeat if they needed you. don't sweat it. : )