Caring for a loved one with cancer builds a relationship like no other. The patient-caregiver bond is strengthened moment by moment as you work to defeat the enemy together. Together as a team battling side effects. Together as a team when scan-xiety visits and refuses to leave. Together when the results are good and together when the results are bad. Together trying to gain a sense of control. Knowing that you are stronger together.
But, what happens when the team becomes divided?
What happens when the strength of togetherness shatters?
How does a relationship with so much on the line diminish?
In a perfect world, relationships would be a blend of give and take. However, in the patient-caregiver relationship, the patient ultimately decides what is best for them. It is the patient that dictates if they want surgery, or additional treatments, or if they really want to try a clinical trial. It is their life and as it should be, their decision. When a caregiver doesn’t agree with the patient decision, what happens then? It’s not easy to accept a decision you may not agree with especially when you’re fully invested in the potential life and death outcome.
What happens to the caregiver when a patient no longer needs or wants them on their team?
How does a caregiver move on knowing that their care is no longer desired?
How can a caregiver learn to care again?
All relationships are complicated and require constant nurture and attention. The patient-caregiver relationship is a delicate balance – a balance built on life and death decisions. A balance of its very nature born from suffering and despair. A balance that requires compassion and empathy. A balance that changes from moment to moment. A balance created by an enemy who leverages all control.
Despite differences in opinion, can the patient-caregiver relationship be restored?
Is there a possibility of compromise – a possibility of regaining the strength of togetherness?
Can both the patient and caregiver find a balance that works for them?
As a caregiver, I have lived through the heartbreak of care divided. I know firsthand that it is possible to compromise and re-create a meaningful patient-caregiver relationship. It isn’t easy, and there are days when I feel helpless. There are days when I feel I should be doing more. But, then I step back and realize that I am providing the type of care that is asked of me. And, in the end, I realize that we are united – not divided. A relationship like no other. Knowing we are stronger together and working to find a balance.