In this journey that Joel & I have been on we have met people from all walks of life. At the infusion center, on chemo round #3, we had the privilege of meeting an older couple who are also walking through a battle with cancer. The very first moment I looked into the wife's eyes I was instantly able to connect to her, what she is walking through & all of the million emotions that go along with it. It broke my heart to see such pain in her eyes. Over time we were able to build a relationship with them & came to care for them greatly. After awhile I felt the need to encourage the wife in sending her a letter to let her know that I was thinking about her. I have felt for while that I should post what I wrote to her but I had been resistant to it because I felt like it was such a personal thing. It has been a few months now & I still have that nagging feeling that it is something I should share so I will. I left out her name for privacy. "Dear....,
I wanted to write you to let you know that you are in my prayers every night. I know how big of a load it is to be the caretaker of a cancer patient. Many say that it is harder than being the patient himself. After what I have gone through the past few months I can see how that would be true. I don't know at what point in the process you are emotionally, but I know all too well the many layers that you will peel through before you feel absolutely stripped to your very core. I know how you can feel like you are in mourning for the life that you once had & in hatred of what your life has now become. I know how depressing it is to spend day in & day out in doctors offices & hospitals. I know that during this process I have felt the highest of highs but also the lowest of lows. Each day is like a journey of its own. As difficult as that is-each day is also a new day, a new beginning, & the blessing of another day. I know how hard it is to see someone you love so weak. And I know how hard it is to try to be all things for all people only to be left with so little of yourself at the end of the day. I have wept for moments that have been taken from our lives until I felt like I had no more tears left to cry. I know that you can easily sink into a place where you feel like it will never get better but I am here to tell you that it WILL get better. I love how in the Bible it talks about our ashes being turned into something beautiful. My life, at one point during this process, turned to complete ashes but I am beginning to find hope again & you will too. You guys are in a fight for life against a terrible disease but you cannot let the fight itself be what takes you down. There will be difficult moments when your patient won't always be the best patient. The only 2 people that will know how truly difficult this is are you & your husband. Unfortunately while you get to be there in all of the amazing moments you are also there for the darkest moments as well. You are caretaker, confidant & trusted friend but you are also the person who has to deal with his pain & at times his frustration. That is never easy, but know that it is because he now looks to you as a source of strength & what an honor it is to be that to someone who needs it so desperately. I know that there are moments when you will feel like you have nothing more to give but you always do-sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper to find it. This journey is just that-a journey. There will be many different moments, feelings thoughts & emotions & it is ok to have every single one of those things. It is ok to be angry & it is ok to be sad. Just don't allow yourself to stay there for long. You are always, always much braver than you think that you are. This journey will prove that to you every day. And you now have the gift of a life changing perspective that will make you a better person for knowing it.
If you are a caretaker of a patient-God bless you! You are doing one of the most difficult & selfless things you can ever do for a person-but there is an amazing blessing in store for you! It is my hope that this letter will encourage you as she said it did her. For everyone else reading this, maybe it can give you an idea of what it is like to be in the shoes of a caretaker. I hope & pray it's a role you never have to have but more than likely most of us will.
Joel starts chemo again one week from tomorrow. He has had a very hard time with nausea again this round. They actually gave him a sedative to just knock him out so he can sleep through this difficult upset stomach. While he doesn't like being so tired & drowsy it's better than being sick-so we take it! In looking at it from the bright side we are just glad that he is able to keep food down. This chemo round will be #8 so we are this close to being at the half-way point. What an amazing feeling that will be!
Hope everyone has a wonderful week this week.