The following story is from Jim, whose wife Jean was the primary caregiver for their teenage son during their son’s cancer journey. Jim says:
Don’t overlook the major caregiver. He or she needs some uplifting too!
The most difficult time for my wife (Jean) and me was dealing with the two-and-a-half-year losing battle with cancer waged by our nineteen -year-old son, Paul. Within days of the diagnosis, his left leg was amputated two-thirds above the knee, and after metastasis he endured a series of six lung surgeries.
My response was to personally appropriate the stories of Jesus’ encounters with heartbroken parents: Mark 5:23 became, “My son is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on him, so that he may be made well, and live.” Matthew 20:30-33 was reduced to, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David! Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David! Lord, let our son be healed.”
As mother and homemaker, Jean was Paul’s primary caregiver. From the beginning, Paul knew that Jean would willingly have taken his cancer into her body. Through every medical checkup at the Mayo Clinic, through every negative test result, every major surgery in Rochester to remove the cancer from his lungs, Jean waited and worried and walked with him. Devastated within, she exuded strength without for his sake.
When Paul married, he and his wife Ruth settled into an apartment across town, and Jean’s emotional stress moved to a new level. Instead of offering some relief and peace, daily physical separation brought the fresh anxiety of wondering hour by hour exactly how he was feeling. Finally, when the spread of the malignancy from the lungs to the rib cage made further surgeries useless, Paul chose to return to his first home to die.
Institutional care was avoided by the installation of oxygen tanks and a hospital bed on our front porch. A hospice nurse taught Ruth and Jean how to administer morphine injections. During those final three months, haunted by morphine and oxygen, Jean never used her bed. Not surprisingly, it was in those months that migratory rheumatoid arthritis permanently invaded Jean’s exhausted body.
Wisdom for the Caregiver (from Jim and Jean)
For additional caregiving advice, refer to the following category on this website: “Caregiving Basics.”
The above advice is from The Compassionate Congregation, pages 65-70.