A Caregiver’s Journey – off the path
By Lorelei O.
I’ve learned a lot since becoming a caregiver to my husband who was first diagnosed with cancer in 2001 and has since had two recurrences. Here are a few salient points in my learning.
1. Turn right instead of left. If left has always taken you to a place you know well, perhaps it’s time to see where a right turn might lead you. In my case, turning right on the bike path instead my usual left to get to my yoga class, delivered me to Wellspring Calgary. I count this as one of the best decisions I made that year.
2. The waiting is the hardest part. Some of you will know this from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I learned this from 35 years of working for the Director of Central Alberta Cancer Care where I fielded many calls from nervous patients waiting for a diagnosis. Then the lesson landed squarely in my own life when we were the ones waiting for phone calls and scan results. It’s no fun. Waiting is actually terribly hard.
3. Reach out. I know it can be hard, but believe me; you don’t always have to be the strong one, and you don’t have to be alone. Showing up can feel like the hardest thing to do, but after you do that, the hard stuff gets easier.
4. Insurance claims can leave you depleted. We had five claims in one month, so go ahead, and take my word for it, these smaller life hassles were irrelevant when you’re on the cancer path. We found it one more thing on the to-do list of appointments. It was hard to find energy to deal with hail devastation, not to mention an absurd and dangerous acidic leak that fell outside of the terms of insurance coverage. Moments like this make it feel like the whole world is against you. Which is why I recommend lots of bike rides, quiet moments in nature, and back to my first point – taking the turn that leads you to Wellspring.
5. Find Wellspring Calgary. Many of my earlier points add up to this important part of my learning. You may have gathered, I’m a well-seasoned carer, so it took time for me to realize that I don’t always have to be the strong one. Even after recognizing this, it took courage and some veering off the path to get me to show up at a place where my needs could be met – my strength could be reinforced – my heart could receive the shelter it needed. But now I’m a member, taking Qigong and Tai Chi and finding great solace and support in the Wellspring community. It is so nice to have positive moments during this challenging time.
Which is why, I strongly suggest to others don’t wait, reach out, Wellspring Calgary just might be the best right turn you can take on your cancer or caregiving path!