This post is a collaborative effort from the members of Breast Cancer Sisters compiled by Taylor Eames.
The unsung heroes of the cancer community are those that take care of their loved ones after they have gotten the cancer diagnosis. From the first mournful hours of just receiving a diagnosis to the aches and pains of treatment and surgeries through the joy of the triumphant “no evidence of disease,” caregivers hold their cancer patients up with loving arms. Their devotion is often perceived as unnoticed and underappreciated. But let me promise you, your warrior knows what you do and couldn’t fight this battle without you.
Many of our members expressed gratitude to their significant other/spouse for their committed
love and caring during their cancer journey. “My husband is my rock,” explains Michelle F. “I tell him all the time that he is vital to my recovery.” Some husbands who worked all day, returned home just to take care of the house, the kids, and their patient all at the same time. “He works all day and then comes home to take care of me and the kids. He’s my hero,” continues Michelle F.
Another member stated how her husband was her biggest cheerleader. “He shaved my head when hair started coming out and told me how beautiful I looked.” says Shelia B. “He promised to love me in sickness and in health. And he did! [He] had pink wrist bands made that said, ‘Sheila’s Soldiers.’ He gave them to friends and family as a visual reminder to pray for me.”
Kathy F. has thanked her husband for taking care of things without being asked and without complaints so that she can concentrate on getting well. He replied saying, “Just doing my job!” Kathy expresses that she is one very lucky woman because she has him by her side.
LaChelle M. says of her husband, “He has been there to help me through this process. He makes me laugh. He is very understanding when the awful side effects kick in and is always telling me to take it easy.”
“He has been with me every step of the way!” exclaims Judy O. of her husband of 44 years. “While dealing with my diagnosis, he had a heart attack and needed 4 stints in his heart. We were in it together! He has waited on me hand and foot, clucked and fussed over me. I realized caring for my every need was his way of dealing. I can’t thank him or love him enough for what he has done for me!
“My husband, Enrique, not only nursed his first wife until she passed away at 39 from Breast Cancer, but sat with me through all my treatment and surgeries too. He must have just died inside when I told him I also had Breast Cancer. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Joanna R. says of her hero hubby.
For others, caregiving has become a family affair. “These are my caregivers,” exclaims Shannon K. “They each help me in their own ways. My hubby, Greg helps with all the driving and cleans up the house. My oldest daughter, Alicia, helps with
watching her siblings almost every day. My two youngest, Graciella and Wayland, help me forget and keep me happy.”
“My biggest support is my daughter Allie. She tells me when my wig is crooked,” laugh Jennifer H. “She’s my light.”
Doreen S. speaks highly of her son, “He’s such a great kid. [He] helps out and never complains.”
Daughter, Danielle, had her mom, Barbara G., move in with her. “She made us move in with her before surgery so her dad would have help taking care of me.”
“My daughter has been by my side the whole time,”says Amy C. She hasn’t missed a treatment. She’ll be having my grandson within days of my last treatment and surgery.” When told her grandson would be a wonderful gift upon
ending treatment, Amy says, “Lil Emmett and I will forever have a special bond. We have both been fighting for our lives the past 6 months. She’s not had an easy pregnancy with the stress of my diagnosis. But we’ve made it.”
Kelly L’s dad graciously flew down for 8 weeks to take care of all the cooking, cleaning, and the kids after she had her DIEP flap surgery.
My own mom was my caregiver. She not only took care of me but also my kids. As a single mom, going through cancer treatments interferes greatly in one’s ability to parent sometimes. While some days I was able
to be as hands on as I always had been, others were spent in bed sleeping, healing from the effects of chemotherapy. My mom did everything for me, for the house, for my stepdad, and for the kids. She is a rockstar!
The light that kept me going, though, was probably my daughter. She would lay in my bed and watch Netflix with me. She kept me giggling and lighthearted. She waited on me while my mom was busy with other things. She constantly made sure I had enough water by my bed. She even stayed with me in the hospital a couple times when I was sick. Most of all her love for me helped me realize why I was fighting to stay alive.
Caring doesn’t always have to be in person. “Each week I was doing chemo and radiation, Ria [my daughter-in-law] and my grands, Kayla and Sophia, would send a beautiful hand made card or a care package of fun goodies to make me smile and brighten my day,” smiles Shelia B.
Friends are also a great source of comfort. “My dearest friend from school, 45 years ago, we
ended up getting connected when I went home in the summer,” explains Evelyn S. When she found out I had cancer, her first thing was she needed to come see me.” Evelyn continues, “It is like we just picked up where we left off 45 years ago. I did my final bra burning ceremony last night.”
Patty W. is blessed with a “neighbor and good friend [that] takes me to appointments.”
Like many others, I found solace in my dogs as well. Wasabi is our black lab who spent hours on end laying in bed with me during treatment. When I was gone for surgery or any time I was in the hospital I would skype with him like I would my kids. He brought joy into my life with his never ending love and devotion.
Sally S. says, “My dog Benny was by my side and watching every blood pressure check and shot I had at home. He knew when I felt bad and would be very gentle laying next to me and usually he’s a hyper fellow.”
Amy C. speaks similarly of her dog, Zoey, who would stay be her side until her caregivers returned home.
Even cats got in on the caregiving! Kathy F. says, “We call [Pris] our ‘nurse cat.’ She is right there to provide comfort. From the time I got my letter saying my mammogram was irregular, she has been by my side (or in my lap). She even sleeps with me. If I get up in the night, she follows me until I go back to bed, then cuddles against me until I go back to sleep.”
As you can see, caregivers come in all shapes and sizes, but all create a loving environment for our breast cancer patients to fight for their lives and heal from the side effects of treatment.
When creating this blog, I asked members what they would say to their caregivers if they had the chance. All of them said, “Thank you!”
Taylor Eames is a single mom of four living in Yuma, Arizona, who was diagnosed with triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma in January of 2016. She openly chronicled her experience during treatment and continuing through the aftermath on TaylorTough on Facebook. Taylor is one of the founders of Breast Cancer Sisters along with her dear friend, Kristy Irizarry.