Looking back on the time that I spent as a part-time caregiver for my father as he battled pleural mesothelioma, I realize that there were two very different, yet interconnected, parts of the job. Taking care of Dad required concrete, physical help as well as emotional support.
Some of the tasks that were involved in aiding my Dad changed throughout his fight. Before his diagnosis, he couldn’t really do much without being short of breath. At that point, he needed help with chores around the house, things that he would usually have done without batting an eye. After his diagnosis and surgery, he required help cleaning his incision site, navigating movement with his chest tubes, and regaining his strength.
Once Dad was recovered and completed his four rounds of chemotherapy, he felt great! He was cutting grass, playing with his bluegrass band, and taking walks much like he did before he fell ill. One thing that he did lose throughout this process was some muscle. A lot of the time he would get frustrated; he just couldn’t seem to do the things he could before we were presented with the term “mesothelioma.”
These were the times where the second part of caregiving kicked in. It was so vitally important for us to support Dad on a deeper level. He had to know that we were there for him to lean on when he was having a tough day accepting what had happened to him. He would often tell me that he was frustrated. Having been a man who could seemingly do anything and then all at once be changed, had to have been a hard thing to endure.
Loving Dad through his mesothelioma was the easy part; to know him was to love him. I know that he always felt that love; the love of family and friends, and the love of God. That is what carried him through.
Please remember that when you are caring for someone afflicted with this cancer, they are still the same person. Don’t allow them to be defined by a disease. Help them with their bodily needs, but don’t forget those emotional ones as well.
Know more about Mesothelioma and how you can deal with it.