Tag Archives: Conditions and Diseases

Happy Thanks-Caregiving


You must do things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

ViolenMan

 We are Thankful for those who are Caregivers today:

We are Thankful for those who will be Caregivers tomorrow:

We are especially Thankful for those Caregivers whose journey has past. 

We share  in our Caregiving Journey in a special way, knowing that while our Caregiving roads might be different, our paths are filled with comfort and joy from the support we receive from each other!  

Thank You for being a part of our Caregiving Journey.  

From our Caregiving Journey to yoursHappy Thanks-Caregiving         

The Bow Tie Guys!

You see…We Might Have Cancer...But Cancer Does Not Have Us! 

cjmbtr (1)

‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ is on hiatus until January 2014 while ‘TLO’ is undergoing radiation treatments.  To listen to  archived episodes of our show, simply click here! 

Christopher MacLellan is a Certified Senior Advisor, the coordinator of senior services for SunServe Social Services and the host of ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on Blog Talk Radio.  ©ThePurpleJacket

3 Comments

Filed under advocacy, Advocate, caregiver, Caregiving, Live Love Laugh, oncology

Tuesday on Be A Healthy Caregiver HIV: People Think It’s Over!


BHC_fb

Join me on Tuesday at 1:00 pm (est) for a special conversation with Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Steven Schwabish for a discussion on HIV.   To listen to our show live, simply click here!

Steven has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for over 30 years and has been HIV + for 27 of those years.  Recent studies have indicated that new HIV cases are on the rise in the senior community.

SunServe logo deb

Through is personal and professional experience, Steven has a keen understanding of the effects of this insidious disease.  Steven will lead us in conversation in regards to his diagnosis, his care and how he has been able to survive 27 years with the HIV virus.  Steven will also be able to talk about HIV through the eyes of a clinician who has worked in the trenches with HIV.

 Through our conversation with Steven, we will all learn how to ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver!’  

To listen to our show live, simply click here!

Listen to

cjmbtr (1)

1 Comment

Filed under Be A Healthy Caregiver, Caregiving, HIV, The Bow Tie Guy

Tumors Have No Boundaries


BHC_fb

One of the insidious parts of (most) cancer is that it is often sight unseen. Sure, the naked eye can see the wear and tear that chemotherapy andeyecheck radiation takes on the body, but those nasty tumors live rebelliously inside one’s body without a hint of what they might do next.

We are in the midst of experiencing the rebellious side of that nasty tumor that sits inside The Little One’s body. Not knowing what it is going to do next, the tumor has decided to showvirius its ugly head at night when you least expect it. “I can’t lay on my side, it’s too painful” he said…”What do you think is causing the pain” I asked…”Heaven only knows” he said…”But I can’t sleep laying down, I am so worn out from all of this,” he said!

Amen to that!

While we are grateful for the good health that The Little One has had since his diagnoses and subsequent treatment in 2011, however it has occurred to me that this unwelcome visitor to his body has no boundaries! We are always talking about setting boundaries in our life, yet this tumor has a mind of its own. It is as rebellions as a teenager. It wake when it wants to and does what it pleases; what an unwelcome guest!

Resting peacefully this afternoon after a trip to the Primary Care Physician today, The Little One takes these bumps in the road with utter peace and calm. I cannot photo (2)say that has been true for me today. He deals with the pain; I want to take it away. He is realistic; I am pessimistic. I want to help, but what can I do other than offer care and comfort? There is no bandage to apply, there is no fever to check, and there are no other signs of him needing help. That is one of the craziest parts in this process, and that is exactly what this is… a process!

Seeing is always believing?

Sure, the next new pill we will be trying this evening might put a fence around the tumor in hopes that it will limit its boundaries. However, I would prefer023 to goon it up with a crosscheck and a boarding penalty in order to enact some revenge on something that I cannot see. (Thank Goodness hockey season is upon us!) While with both know the reality of his cancer, we are both aware of the uncertainty with his cancer as well: what a paradox!

The most important thing that I learned today as we traveled together on another part of our Caregiving Journey is that I have to be there to be supportive, to share information, to advocate for the one I care for, and the one that I love. Caregiving was never meant to be easy, but we can make it easier on ourselves by talking about our fears, by being present to our needs, while being an advocate for the one we care. Thankful for the support at work, family and friends across the country and especially my extended family at Caregiving.com for checking in on us today!

Even though the insidious tumor may not want to set boundaries, we can stifle the tumor control over us by simply being realistic and present to each other. Easier said than done, yet possible because you see… We Might Have Cancer, But Cancer Does Not Have Us!

Chris MacLellan is a Caregiver to his partner Richard Schiffer; the Coordinator of Senior Services for SunServe Social Services in Wilton Manors, FL.; and the host of ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on Blog Talk Radio.

cjmbtr (1)Tuesday’s at 1:00pm (est) /Thursday’s at 8:00 pm (est)

3 Comments

Filed under cancer treatments, Esophagus Cancer, LGBT Caregiving

‘Guys Who Care’


be-healthy
GetContent
The article below was written by Diane C. ‍Lade Staff writer of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  Diane has given me permission to share this article with my readers.   Thank You Diane for including us in your article and drawing attention to ‘Guys Who Care’.  Job well done!  dlade@tribune.com   

 

Men assuming roles as caregivers need special support!

Do you ever get used to changing the diaper of the woman who once diapered your babies? How do you deal with not knowing how to cook a simple meal when you used to be a company CEO? What should you say when your wife, afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease, asks you to have sex every time you visit her in the nursing home?

Like anyone tending to a family member with a debilitating medical condition, male caregivers face hard challenges. But experts are beginning to recognize men may face those challenges in different ways than women and require different kinds of help.

“There are some men who are going to feel uncomfortable talking about their issues in mixed [company],” said Dale Bruhn, 88, of Delray Beach, who runs the men-only support group offered by the Alzheimer’s Association Southeast Florida Chapter.

Bruhn knows about the walls men put up from personal experience. He began suffering mock heart attacks from the stress of caring for his wife at home for seven years; she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when she was only 60. He kept insisting he was fine, a trait shared by many male caregivers, Bruhn said, raised to believe that boys don’t cry.

Finally when his wife’s nurse browbeat him into joining a support group, Bruhn was surprised he was able to share his pain and fear — in part because, by chance, the group was predominantly men.

“Women are not afraid to talk or express their opinions, and that can be frightening to men who are new to Caregiving. Sometimes, men-only is a good thing,” he said. “Many aren’t used to being domestic helpers and need help coping with the new demands they face.”

Just a decade ago, less than a quarter of caregivers were men. But that has been rapidly changing, with more women working and more men accepting nurturing roles like being a stay-at-home dad. About 35 percent of people who call themselves caregivers are male, according to the 2009 Caregiving in the USA study of about 1,500 people, from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. The numbers are higher among those in the workplace, who tend to be younger, with about 45 percent being male, the study found.

Yet there still are few resources or programs targeting men, something some experts think should change.

For example, men caring for sick or elder relatives “tend not to share with their colleagues or supervisors why they might need time off,” National Alliance CEO Gail Hunt said. “Having something in the workplace that reaches out specifically to men might be helpful.”

 Hospice by the Sea, which offers caregiver support in Broward and Palm Beach counties through its Aloesea program, will be looking at men as part of its new study on workplace Caregiving, funded by United Healthcare.

The organization so far has not developed any guys-only programs. But one formed by default several years ago, when five men and only one woman signed up for a short-term, grant-funded Hospice by the Sea cancer support group in Boca Raton.

The woman soon dropped out “but the five men formed such a bond and felt so comfortable with each other, they came every week,” said Stefanie McKee, the hospice’s senior director for program development and analysis. “Men don’t talk about these issues when they get together on the golf course.”

McKee noticed how often the participants coped and communicated through humor, something women do far less often. “It made me think that men might be more likely to come to an all-male group,” she said.

The Alzheimer’s Family Center in Margate has noticed about 20 percent of those who come for caregiver counseling are men now, as compared with 10 percent a decade ago.

And the local Alzheimer’s Association chapter, which sponsors Bruhn’s gatherings, is experiencing a similar trend: about 38 percent of support group participants this year are men, up from 33 percent last year.

Jamie Brodarick, the chapter’s program service manager, said more men-exclusive groups might be added. And she already is trying to recruit more male facilitators; Bruhn is one of two at this point.

“We know that men tend to approach Caregiving somewhat differently than women. They are more pragmatic. Their primary concerns are having the right doctors, managing medications,” Brodarick said. “Women are more concerned about the socialization and emotional well-being of those they are caring for.”

 Homewatch CareGivers — a Denver-based home health company with one franchise in Miami-Dade and two pending for Broward and Palm Beach counties — in September started a just-for-men advice website to tap into a potential new client base. Home-watch President Leann Reynolds said franchise partners had been reporting they were getting more calls from caregiving sons, husbands and grandsons.

The site, MaleCaregiver.com

Community.com  , serves as a discussion board where topics include health conditions, care options and taking care of yourself. Recent posts include one from a Vietnam veteran wanting advice about caring for his wife who was partially paralyzed by a stroke, and a son who was heartbroken when his lonely father started dating while caring for his Alzheimer’s-stricken mother.

Experts say one reason male caregiver numbers are growing is that more men today are identifying with the term. Another is that more older gay men, who once worried that admitting they cared for an elderly parent or partner would lead to questions about their sexual orientation, are coming out of the closet.

Chris MacLellan, coordinator of senior services for the SunServe LGBT social service agency in Wilton Manors, has been nursing his longtime companion Richard Schiffer, through cancer for two years. MacLellan did the same earlier for another man he loved deeply until his death six years ago.

“What I knew from my experience from the first time is that I didn’t have an outlet. In most cases, women will ask for help but men will be more reticent. Me, I was caught off-guard changing a diaper,” MacLellan said.

He now dedicates his free time to giving comfort and self-care advice through his blog and an Internet radio show at ThePurpleJacket.com . While his efforts are definitely LGBT- and male-friendly, Caregiving is “something that has no gender or orientation boundaries,” he said.

PHOTOS BY CARLINE JEAN/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Dale Bruhn, 88, of Delray Beach, cared for his wife, Norma Bruhn, for years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 60. He runs a men-only support group.

Chris MacLellan, left, coordinator of senior services for the SunServe LGBT social service agency in Wilton Manors, has been nursing his longtime companion, Richard Schiffer, through cancer for two years.

 

Caregiving resources

Elder Helpline: Can link to local support groups. Call 800-963-5337.

National Alliance for Caregiving: Resource and research. Caregiving.org

Family Care Navigator: State-by-state online resource list. Part of nonprofit National Center on Caregiving.

Caregiving.com 

Listen to

cjmbtr (1)

Every Tuesday at 1:00 pm (est

1 Comment

Filed under Be A Healthy Caregiver

“He’s My Miracle Patient!”


be-healthy

“He’s MY Miracle Patient”  Dr. Milica Starcevic April 1, 2013

Today as we visited Richard’s primary care physician for his quarterly check-up. This is no April Fools joke, reality before our eyes, a miracle in the works!  BRS2

BRS3

BRS2

After reviewing all the blood work, checking in on recent history with his health, then receiving updates from both of us she just uttered these words:

“He Is My Miracle Patient!”

Given 3 to 4 months to live in October of 2011; In August of this year we will ‘celebrate’ 2 years since the original diagnosis of esophagus  cancer.  Like many families who go through a cancer diagnoses, we were filled with so many diverse emotions.  Now two years past, we are thankful for each and every day we spend together.  Sure some days are better than others, and the esophagus does ‘act-up’ from time to time; the tumor does have a mind of its own!

Being a family caregiver comes with quite a bit of sacrifice and courage, and just like ‘The Little One”, I have my good days and I have my bad days.  Sleepless nights, worrying about things that I cannot control and wondering what’s going to happen next.  It’s all part of the role of being a family caregiver. 

BRS1

Yet on a day like today, being a family caregiver is put into perspective  when Dr. Starcevic turned to me and said “thank you  for being a Caregiver.”  Those long nights, followed by those uncertain  days were a thing of the past by those simple words uttered by Dr. Starcevic!  Of course, a big smile from ‘The Little One Helped, too!

You see…We Might Have Cancer,

But Cancer Does Not Have Us!

Listen to:

cjmbtr (1) Every Tuesday at 1:00 pm est

Access all our shows by clicking here!

5 Comments

Filed under Advocate, Be A Healthy Caregiver, caregiver, Caregiving, Esophagus Cancer

82: Who Would Have Known?


Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.  Aristotle 

026Today, ‘The Little One’ turns 82! It is a feat to recognize considering we are now 16 months past the oncologist‘s original  estimation of 3-4 months to live after the completion of his radiation and chemotherapy treatments in October of 2011.      We all know that Cancer is an insidious disease, unpredictable and unkind to many.  While we feel blessed to have the extended time together,  we are cognizant of all  cancer victims and their families today.

We learned from our oncologist prediction in October of 2111 that there is really no one who can tell us how this ordeal was going to play out.  There are no timetables in life:  what is here today, is gone tomorrow.  Knowing full well that I am not the one with cancer, I had to learn my supporting role as the caregiver as time played out.  Remembering ‘TLO’ determination and commitment to ‘fight this as best I can’ still rings in my ears from October 2011.  His determination is still prevalent today!

I have never liked phrase ‘terminal illness‘ …some people view life as a terminal illness.  Yikes, how sad that is!   TheWorry TLO and I have both buried our previous partners, in one sense that is what drew us together.  Our previous Caregiving experiences give us the foresight to know that…we really don’t know what is going to happen.  The best we can do is be present in the day.  That is why is it our hope that lets us withstand problems, and it is our dreams that lets us find solutions.  

We celebrate birthdays as milestones, and today is a special milestone for ‘TLO’.  Happy Birthday to my best friend, pal and partner.   May your hills always have a gentle wind at your back.

We Might Have Cancer…

 img_19122012_204936

But Cancer Does Not Have US!

4 Comments

Filed under Advocate, Be A Healthy Caregiver, Caregiving, Gay Seniors, Intergenerational, oncology

On Borrowed Time?


 

I decided to try something different this evening with my blog post… I am using Dragon Naturally Speaking to post my blog this evening.  I have come to the realization that I am much better at speaking than I am at typing: this just might be a better way for me to communicate my thoughts, feelings and emotions as I moved forward with ‘The Purple Jacket.”  So far so good!

Jewish Halo

This past week,  The Little One had his appointment with the oncologist. What was amazing about this appointment was that I did not feel the need, nor did I have the time to go to the appointment with him.   Now the ‘Mother Hen’ in me worried all morning about the whereabouts of “The Little One” yet  I knew deep down inside me that could handle the oncologist, handle the drive down to the office and be independent.  He did not get to be 81 without some form of independence!

Just as is the primary care doctor was encouraged at his progress, so was the oncologist.  It just so happens that the oncologist and the primary care doctor share the same office space;  this convenient for sharing information between staff and doctors.  The other benefit of this location in that the chemotherapy treatments is on the site, too! This  setup has made easier, not only for “The Little One”, but for all the patients that these physicians see on a regular basis.

The oncologist continued to spread good cheer,  good health and well-being for “The Little One.”  As I mentioned in my last blog post, the oncologist had projected 3 or 4 months to live after the initial diagnosis and subsequent treatments.  While he is pleased to be proven wrong, statistically speaking, the cure rate for esophageal cancer is one of the lowest there is.  If we are going solely by the book, then 3 to 4 months is correct.

It is understandable why a diagnosis like this would be attached to such a short lifespan.  That being said,  we forged ahead mindful of the pitfalls, yet striving for the best possible results.  We never want to rule out hope!

 I guess what amazes me the most about this visit to the oncologist is not the fact that we all recognize that the little one has far exceeded anyone’s expectations; it’s why is the doctor felt like he has to end this positive visit with the words…”You know you’re on borrowed time!”

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Granted I was not there for this conversation, and I have no reason to doubt what “The Little One” has told me in regards to this conversation.  Yet, I am not sure what the purpose of comments like this does for a patient, for a caregiver or for the physician themselves?  Throughout this whole ordeal, we have taken a positive approach to dealing with the effects of cancer. We could sulked, we could  have  played the blame game, we could have gone into denial… However, what good would that have done for either one of us?  That’s just like saying…”you know we’re on borrowed time.”  

I do not claim to be a doctor, I do not claim to be a clinician, but I do believe that I understand how a positive outlook and healthy communication  can have a soothing and  healing effect on the mind, on the body, and of the spirit when dealing with critical health issues.  When you think about it,  we are all on borrowed time, yet does a cancer patient really need to be reminded of that?

Photo Credit: Pinterst

The healing power of body, mind and spirit plays such an important role in overcoming physical (and mental) illness.   To use a sports metaphor, the best defense is usually a good offense.  The best way to deal with a diagnosis of cancer is to be as realistic and honest as possible.  Our best offense was to plunge full force  When I look at this comment from the oncologist in this light, I can understand it.  Yet to presuppose a diagnosis without the addition of hope, only leads us to despair.  Reality is painful enough, more so without the effects of hope!

Sometimes Just Being There is all we need

Through this experience, I am convinced that one of the key tools in transmitting hope and reality,  is the ability to be an empathetic communicator.    Calmly… Empathy transmits hope and reality.  I don’t think that there is anymore that we can ask for when dealing with the stark reality of Cancer or any other disabling illness.

You see…We Might Have Cancer…But Cancer Does Not Have Us! 

Photo Credit: ‘The Bow-Tie-Guy”

 

4 Comments

Filed under advocacy, Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, cancer treatments, Caregiving, Esophagus Cancer, Gay Caregiving, Gay Seniors, LGBT, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors, Spirituality

Amazement!


Photo Credit: Pinterest

As we continue to move forward with his aftercare, there is amazement on every side of the aisle. Our last report from the primary care doctor was terrific. She, like everyone else involved in his care, is utterly amazed at the progress that ‘The Little One’ has made since this ordeal started almost a year ago. I have been reluctant to blog lately, because quite frankly, I am amazed (and quite busy) too.

When ‘The Little One’ was diagnosed with cancer in late July of 2011, we started six weeks’ worth of treatments almost immediately. The outcome looked bleak back then, and in fact the doctors gave us little hope for the future when the diagnosis came in. ‘Three maybe four months” said the oncologist back in September of 2011.

It was at that time I made the conscious decision to withhold that information from ‘The Little One’ while telling the doctor ‘let’s wait and see how he responds to treatments.’ I never shared that conversation with ‘The Little One’ until after our last appointment with his primary care doctor just a few weeks ago. (If we are doing the math, that last appointment was in June; I was told in August of 2011 that he had 3 to 4 months. We are almost to a year since the first treatments….) Of course, I consulted with the oncologist on the decision not to share this information with ‘The Little One’ , and he agreed. “Let see how the treatments go and let him live his life to the fullest!” He has exceeded all expectations, and now his doctors want to do a case study on him.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

To withhold this information is a difficult judgment call that caregivers, spouses, doctors have to make on a daily basis. I made this decision based on one simple fact. ‘The Little One’ knew that he had cancer, and he knew that it was serious; I also knew that he was going to do anything he possibly could to beat the diagnosis. Why train the mind to think something is going to happen, when we really do not know when is going to happen?

This week, ‘The Little One’ will visit his oncologist for a quarterly check-up. I am confident that the oncologist will be pleased and say again….”Bern, you look great,” which ‘The Little One will reply, “ Yes, I’ve got a new embalmer!” Laughter is the best medicine, even in its most trying times.

What is left of the tumor is dormant and for all intent and purposes, his cancer is in remission. From the first day, we have taken this day by day. What else is there to do? Every case is different. My decision to withhold this information from “The Little One” was not an easy decision to make. After revealing this decision to him, he was glad not to know… even though he did know.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

In a sad, but beautiful twist of fate, ‘The Little One’s lifelong friend Jill has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Like our first report, Jill’s first report has us all concerned. What is beautiful about this is how ‘The Little One’  is able to transfer his experience of this insidious disease to Jill… to encourage her, to console her, to simply be there for her.  This gift of encouragement is one of the best gifts that one can give to a friend.

We send out a big hug and hello to our friend Doug in STL who is going through treatments at this time.  We are thinking of you Doug!

 Remember…We might have cancer…But cancer does not have us.

Photo Credit: The Purple Jacket

As you have noticed, we have taken a break from Blogging on ‘The Purple Jacket’ for the past few weeks.  As I transition into a new job and into a new academic program at Gonzaga University, “The Purple Jacket” will be taking on a new look too.   We will continue to provide you updates on ‘The Little One’ as this blog is really dedicated to him.  Yet in future weeks, we will expand the content of the blog to discuss the effects of Caregiving on the caregiver.   What is often overlooked in Caregiving is the importance of the health of the caregiver.  Personally, I have had to take a long hard look at this issue, and have come to the conclusion  that the best way to deal with this issue is to blog about it.  In essence, there is a real purple jacket.  I just can’t fit into it any longer.   We have to explore the issue of what it means to be a healthy caregiver!

Photo Credit: Caregiving.com

I am BIG fan of Caregiving.com  The community on Caregiving.com is just tremendous and Denise Brown who is the proprietor of this wonderful website, is an expert in the field of Caregiving. You want to be sure to check out Caregiving.com and become a part of the Caregiving family too!  Follow Denise on Twitter @caregiving and on Blog Talk Radio, too!

WE will also be exploring a new communication theory entitled ‘The Theory of Empathic Communication” in an upcoming blog posts, as well as our Phone A Friend program at SunServe Social Services.  We will also be chatting about a great program at the Pride Center in Fort Lauderdale, Coffee & Conversation which takes place every Tuesday morning at 11:00 am in Wilton Manors, Florida.   I will also have some speaking engagements to announce in August and September.  Coming soon,  ‘The Bow-Tie-Guy’ on Blog Talk Radio!  

Photo Credit: The Bow-Tie-Guy

6 Comments

Filed under advocacy, Advocate, Blog, Bow Tie, Bow Tie Guy, cancer treatments, Caregiving, Gay Caregiving, Gay Seniors, Inter-generational Relationships, LGBT, LGBT Caregiving, LGBT Couples, oncology

The Heart of Caregiving


Cancer came upon us in one full swoop.  Often times, we get into situations that are beyond our control…’things’ just happen, like Cancer.  Care-givers are often thrown into their roles on a moments notice.  Cancer or other debilitating illnesses do not arrive by invitation, they just show up at your door unannounced. When you think about it, no one wants their loved one to be ill, no one wants to see their parent, spouse, child or best friend ill.  Unfortunately, illness is a part of life that we all have to deal with.  At a moments notice you become a care-giver, without any warning, without any preparation, without any idea of what you are supposed to do next.  All of a sudden you are responsible for someones well-being because of their illness.    Care-giving is a tremendous, rewarding  and sometimes a frustrating experience, yet care-giving has meaning to it that is beyond approach.

While I do not often revert  to my theological training, I am reminded of the Corporal Works of Mercy which are, simply stated, the seven practices of charity towards our neighbor…

1. Feed the hungry: 2. Give drink to the thirsty: 3. Clothe the naked: 4. Shelter the homeless: 5. Visit the sick: 6.Visit those in prison: 7. Bury the dead.

I see the Corporal Works of Mercy as a job descriptions for caregivers.  There is an art in accomplishing these task and  and in accomplishing these tasks, one has to have a caring heart.  Care-giving is not a role for the faint of heart, it is not a role suited for everyone.  Just as we all have different talents, skills and life avocations, being a care-giver is no different.  The tryouts are usually on the fly and without much preparation, however care-giving is bound to have a profound effect on all involved in the experience.

One of the most important components of being a care-giver is that you  have a caring heart.  Sound kind of silly doesn’t it?  But it is true!   How many other ‘jobs’ monitor the feelings inside your heart?  Being a care-giver is not a ‘job’ to those who do it, it’s an avocation.    If  you are not truly concerned about the person you are caring for, then it might be a good idea for you  to take a close look at what you are doing for that person. There is a high rate of burn out in care-giving;  care-giving is an  intense experience where you often surrender your self for the needs of someone else.  Finding that happy balance is truly a slippery slope. The art of care-giving always starts with a feeling from inside heart.

2 Comments

Filed under advocacy, Advocate, caregiver, Caregiving, Esophagus Cancer, Senior Health, Spirituality, Unconditional Love

“Because They Are Nice”


As we continue to recover from the chemo and radiation therapy, we often reflect on ‘how things used to be’.  Always willing to be on the go, ‘The Little One’ has taken a wait and see attitude on many of the things he used to like to do.   While there has been steady progress in his overall health these past few weeks, we are really on a ‘day-to-day event planner schedule.

Crowds has never been his thing, even when feeling good.  So approaching his 81st birthday, I was puzzled at what might we do?  And…if we would be able to do it!  With a small gathering in Brentwood, ‘The Little One” was greeted by ‘The Sisters’ and a couple of friends from our Tuesday night group at Pietro’s.   (of course, one sister forgot to make it)

What struck me about the evening was not so much about the significance of the day, but rather the engagement in conversation of “The Little One.”    I will be the first one to admit that I can be a little worry wort and always have one eye out for him, yet on this night I glad that I did because I saw a person return to life in a way that was good to see.

You see, cancer can take the root out of your being. Cancer drains your energy, it drains your confidence and it drains your piece of mind.  It is easy to understand why so many people give up, that is why outside support is so important in the healing process.  What I saw on Saturday was a man who enjoyed talking about topics that were important to him, all removed from the thought of having cancer.  When the topic turned to the Virgin Islands, well…he was off and running. You can’t go through 81 years of life without having special memories of people, places and things.   It was a joy to watch him revel in the conversation.

When we talked about his ‘engagement’ at the gathering, I mentioned to him that it was great to see him involved in conversation that was important to him and completely outside to scope of health, cancer and the rest.  He too, acknowledged that it was a great experience, with lots of fun  and easy to talk to ‘because they are so nice.’

What “The Little One” learned on this evening is that its good for him to be in conversation on topics that he enjoys as it takes his mind of the health concerns.  What I learned is that I cannot be mother hen, worried about every step in the road.   We live day by day.   Often times we go through life with so many misunderstandings, so many unresolved conflicts and so many worries that seem unbearable.

Yet when you think about it, it is easier to get through the day simply when people are nice!

3 Comments

Filed under Advocate, Bow Tie Guy, cancer treatments, Caregiving, Esophagus Cancer, Health, Humor, Intergenerational, LGBT Couples, SAGE, Spirituality, Uncategorized