COPING: PERSPECTIVES FROM THE WIFE OF A CANCER PATIENT

Today a family member of a cancer patient asked me,

“How did you find the strength, courage and motivation to stay present for your husband during the never-ending nightmare of cancer?”

I was surprised by the immediacy of my response to this question.

“There wasn’t any choice,” I thought to myself.

I married this man for better or for worse, and then suddenly, with no warning, we found ourselves engulfed in  the “worse” part of the theoretical equation. There were only two choices and one of them wasn’t ever an option at all: I could run, just bail out completely– or I could take a deep breath and prepare for a launch into the unknown. Since there was no choice, I “chose” the latter.

This wasn’t a matter of courage on my part. Truthfully, it was more that I was engulfed in a sense of unreality. I wasn’t really afraid because everything that was happening seemed so not-real. After the shock of the 3 A.M. drive to the emergency room, after the 2-hour wait  for a diagnosis (we both thought it was food poisoning), I was summoned into the bowels of the emergency room and told that John had a perforated colon and that he would die very soon without surgery. I was given one minute to say goodbye to him before he was wheeled away, then left alone in the dim twilight of the waiting room.

What did I do in that moment? How did my coping skills  morph and evolve over time? My goal with this blog (which is now in book form: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004T3331M has been to take what John and I learned through hard experience, to extrapolate the universals that could ease the lives of other cancer patients and their loved ones, and to translate that into an easy-to-read, easy to search format.

In this chapter, you will learn what my 26 years of being with dying people taught me about living with cancer, about the ways in which cancer mercifully keeps caregivers focused on the present moment, and
how it is to begin to understand that one’s cherished identity as a wife may be ending.

You have stumbled upon a rare opportunity to learn first-hand from another colon cancer patient’s four years of experience in navigating the colon cancer maze. Our doctors told us we were the most informed patient team they had ever encountered– yet we felt utterly lost a great deal of the time. Every cancer patient I’ve talked to felt the same way. We learned so much about The System, and how critical being  an informed patient is to getting the treatment you need, how to deal with difficult doctors, troubleshooting and taking charge of pain control– and so much more, none of which you will hear about from your doctor.

You owe it to yourself and your loved one to benefit from all that we learned the hard way.  This is the kind of information that, until the publication of this book, could only become part of your database by living through it and  realizing in retrospect how all the pieces fit together: colon cancer from the patient’s and caregiver’s point of view.  $9.99 seems like a very small price, considering the emotional and physical suffering you will likely be saved by learning from our experience.

Shedding Light on the Cancer Journey: Navigating the Colon Cancer Maze http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004T3331M can now be read on any computer or other reading device. The reader interface is available free from Amazon and is downloadable in seconds.

I will realize absolutely no profit from the sale of this book.  All proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards the support of the 400 monks, nuns and yogis in the seven Tibetan monasteries of Tulku Orgyen Zangpo Rinpoche, who have devoted their lives towards building the foundation for peace and freedom from suffering for all beings in this world.

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About surfingon

I live in Hawaii. I surf in the winter and swim in the summer. I have been a hospice volunteer with a contemplative-care oriented hospice for 25 years have been part of their team that trains new volunteers for the last 9 years. I have walked the colon cancer path with my beloved husband these past 5 years. He died very peacefully in April 2009. I now seek to share what we learned, to shed light on the many dark corners of this often mystifying, heartbreaking and heart-opening journey.
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One Response to COPING: PERSPECTIVES FROM THE WIFE OF A CANCER PATIENT

  1. Charlotte Flavin says:

    Rachel,
    Straight from the heart, and eloquent, as always.
    Thank you for the beautiful teaching.
    Charlotte

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