breast cancer diagnosis first came down, we both went into shock. The first thing we were sure of was that we
weren’t sure of anything, and that we had no idea what was coming. How serious was it? Will she have to go through
chemotherapy? Will she lose her
breast? How long will all of this take? What’s next?
Is she going to die? In
retrospect, the “not knowing” was the most frightening thing of all, so my
advice as a caregiver is to take charge and learn as much as you can about your
situation; and do it immediately.
the first one to say that that’s a pretty scary proposition, but the
alternative (not knowing, that is) is much worse. Here’s the thing to remember: even if what
you learn is scary, it’s less scary to know than not to know.
Do not delay; the longer you
do, the more anxiety you will suffer.
first learned how to ride a horse we were out on the trail and we heard an
approaching motorcycle. My horse became
frightened and started shaking and dancing around; needless to say I wasn’t
real happy about the situation since it was my first ride! Instinctively, I turned the horse away from
the noise thinking that would calm him.
The instructor yelled to me,
“Face the danger! Turn the horse to face
the danger! NOW!” As soon as I did, he saw the motorcycle, realized
what it was and that it was not a threat, and stood there calmly watching as it
a good life lesson for us all, but especially those of us who are facing a
frightening diagnosis. Face the
danger: learn as much as you can about
your situation and it won’t seem so scary.
wade through all of the available information, beware of well-meaning friends
and family: they will give you advice and tell you what is going to happen to
you based on their experience or that of someone they know. Remember that every situation is
different, and what they say won’t necessarily apply to you. There are a lot of variables such as disease
specifics, age, health and personality of patient, financial/insurance
restrictions, available services, etc., so someone else’s experience is not
necessarily relevant. Be sure that you
get your information from credible sources, and that it applies to you and your
Balch founded The Patient/Partner Project, which is focused on helping other
patients by helping their partners. Visit www.ThePatientPartnerProject.org
for Internet resources and services for patients and partners, including free
online progress reporting for family and friends and a free email mini-course
of “Six ‘L’s’ of Caring and Coping.” You
can contact Dave at Dave@ThePPP.org or
toll-free at 1-8-MORAL SUPPORT (1-866-725-7877) ã 2004, Dave Balch. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED