The Voice of Canadians With Breast Cancer

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Care giving and care receiving

By Peggy Wilson

We all, at some point, need to take on the role of caregiver. For some of us, that time coincides with us needing care as well. At a time when my husband was recovering from heart surgery and anticipating a kidney transplant, where I was to be his donor, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My surgery was scheduled quickly, and I was spared the ordeal and trauma of radiation and chemotherapy, which I am forever grateful for. However, the emotional toll it took was immeasurable.

Our 24 year old son stepped in and proceeded with testing and the transplant. At this time in my life, my parents were in their late 80’s. They did not drive at night anymore, and my Dad had to use a walker to get around. My Mom’s memory was failing, and they needed support.

We have been called the sandwich generation and I am fine with helping anyone in need. But when your role in life has been the “fixer”, the “doer”, the one people go to because you always say “yes”, it is difficult to suddenly switch roles.

I found that saying “no” to people was incredibly hard. I still do. My needs have always come last on the list and that was the way I was. It was not the way I needed. I was resentful to all those people expecting my help and support, even though I kept giving it. I would brush off my diagnosis with “I’ll be fine”, and then expecting others to be more concerned than they were.

If I have learned anything, it is that some people care about themselves first and foremost. I am not one of those people. I am 11 ½ years free of breast cancer. I have learned to accept my diagnosis, my altered physical state and my limitations. One day I might learn how to put myself first. If you see yourself in this blog, take a moment and think about where you will be in 11 ½ years. I am happy in my life and I am blessed to still have my 90 and 91 year old parents and a husband and son enjoying good health. I am still cancer free. One day soon I may actually learn to be one of those other people when I need to be.