Tag Archives: esophagus cancer

Pulitzer Prize Nomination: A Posthumous Birthday Gift


Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. Oscar Wilde

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Photo Credit: Carline Jean Photographer for the Sun-Sentinel

Today, January 24, would have been Richard’s eighty-fourth birthday. Last year we celebrated with a small group of friends at one of our favorite stopping grounds, D’Angelo’s, in Fort Lauderdale; it was a fun-filled evening that everyone will always remember.  One of my favorite photos from our story, ‘In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey was snapped at D’Angelo’s last year.  Anticipating those delicious Petit Fours, you see us both peering into the box, as if we are playing a game of peek-a-boo.  While I forget how many Petit Fours were in the box, I do remember that by the next morning, the box was empty!

This week comes the word that our story, ‘In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey’ has been nominated by the Sun-Sentinel for Pulitzer Prize consideration.  I think it is fitting that I share this information with you today on what would have been Richard’s eighty-fourth birthday.  Both modest, yet very accomplished, Sun-Sentinel journalist Diane Lade and photojournalist Carline Jean told our story in a very loving way that has touched over 400,000 people worldwide.  I am thankful because the story has provided me with a very special memory that will last a lifetime.

Those who knew Richard knew him to be a private person.  For him to agree to do the story was his gift of love, care, and commitment to me.  I return it two-fold.  I am reminded of some sage advice that I have received along the way since Richard’s life transition: ‘The feeling of missing him will get softer, but the love you shared will always be strong.’  I think of these words of wisdom quite often, especially today on his birthday with this special news, reminds me how strong love can be in one’s life.

My faith tells me that I will see him again; my mind tells me that he is forever pain-free; my heart tells me that he is right next to me.

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Superstars: Diane Lade and Carline Jean

I thank Diane Lade and Carline Jean for telling our story through the lens of love, care and commitment as that was the true story of our life together.  In my book, they have already won; they also won Richard’s heart along the way, too.  For without their demonstration of professionalism, along with the love, care, and commitment they showed to us on this journey, Richard never would have felt comfortable, especially over the last few months,  to continue with the story as the cancer took over his body.

Richard said to me just a few weeks before he made his life transition, “Diane and Carline are going to have quite an end to their story.”  That Sunday afternoon on March 9, 2014 when Richard made his life transition, he waited for Diane and Carline to arrive in order to say his goodbye to two people who he allowed into his heart.  Richard let very few people into his life, and in his way, by this very deserving nomination, Richard’s love, care, and commitment, continues to give back to the people he loved, cared and trusted the most.

Congratulations to Diane, Carline and the entire Sun-Sentinel Staff who worked on this project.

Diane Lade and Carline Jean will always have a special place in my heart.

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Filed under Esophagus Cancer, LGBT Couples, LGBT Seniors

Letting Go, Together As One


We loved with a love that is more than love ~ Edgar Allan Poe

As I pulled up to the boat dock on Tuesday, I was amazed at what a beautiful,  clear and sunny day it was in South Florida. At this time of year, especially in the height of hurricane season, one never knows what the weather might bring us. The boat caption’s words last week after I booked the reservation–“we will sail at 9:30 am, weather permitting–reminded me that even when we put our best plans in place, there are things beyond our control.   BoatWaves

Sure, we all know that we cannot control the weather, we can only work with it.  Yet for me, the plans to sail on Tuesday, September 9th was significant because Tuesday, September 9th was the six month anniversary of Richard’s life transition and it was time for us to let go, so that we could be together again as one.   I’ve never experienced a burial at sea, so I had no personal experience to go by, but I did know that what was important for both Richard and I, was to be set free from the perils of death and be free, free so that we can be together  again as one.

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On this beautiful sunny Tuesday morning, it was a small gathering of friends as we motored out into the Atlantic ocean.  Making the decision to bury Richard’s ashes at sea was something that we had both talked about, and something that I knew he approved of since he buried his first partner, Herman at sea in 1999.  The biodegradable boxes were a work of art; one blue with the (last) remains of Herman and one white with the  remains of Richard.  Yet even in those conversations about burial at sea,  you really don’t know if you can ‘do it’ until you get right to the point or rather, the day of ‘doing it.’

In a sense, I knew that placing Richard’s ashes at sea WAS my last act of Caregiving for him.   Sure, I had the option of the funeral home ‘doing it’ for me, but I knew deep inside my heart that this was my sole responsibility and something I wanted, and needed to do.  Then the conversation started on the boat.  “I understand that we have to be more than three miles from shore before the boxes can be placed in the ocean,” I said.  Then in unison, two of my friends said…”You’re going to just place his box in the ocean, he wants to be set free, just like you, let the ashes out of the box and set both of you free!”  “Hummm,” I thought…”Another Caregiving decision to make, and how I thought those decision were behind me!”

As the boat slowed down and then anchored, I knew that we had approached our destination and it was my turn to act.  I had no special words to say, yet I shared pictures of Herman and Richard and talked about their 43 years together as I placed Herman’s beautiful blue box in the ocean. Ocean 2 As I reached for Richard’s beautiful white box, I was still unsure of what I was going to do, then the box slightly opened, I could hear him speaking to me, “let me be free!”  After a few words, I took Richard’s box, and spread his ashes in the ocean and then watched as a beautiful array of colors gleamed at the top of the ocean as his ashes floated away on his eternal cruise.  As difficult as this was, as I watched his ashes float away, there was a sense of peace that came upon me that is difficult to explain.

As the box emptied of Richard’s ashes and then dropped into the ocean, the caption circled Richard’s starting point of his life-long cruise, where everyone placed  roses in the water,  and I thought about how happy he was because he was free.  It was at this point when I realized that I was free, too.

My last act of Caregiving for the one I continue to love, was to set him free, so that we both could be free.  BRScar2

You see, I did not mind being Richard’s caregiver, in fact I believe it is an honor to be a Caregiver, but for now and forever, I can go back to just being his partner, which is what I miss the most.  My faith tells me that I will see him again; my mind tells me that he is now forever free; my heart tells me that he 20120407-002416.jpgis right next to me.

For now, he is just a port ahead of me on his life-long cruise, catching up with family and friends, while speaking to me in different ways, because  I know that one day, I will arrive at his port and catch up with him on that life long cruise.  I’m sure he’ll have reserved a good cabin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Everlasting Love: TLO Is At Rest And At Peace


Love is the beauty of the soul ~ Saint Augustine

Bernard Richard Schiffer January 24, 1931 ~ March 9, 2014

Sophia Looking Gay

LilyThe house is quiet; so different, so empty. The beautiful aroma of the stargazer lilies fills the house as one by one, they bloom in their mystical way. Just as the lilies transition from a small bud to a beautiful flower; TLO’s transition into eternal life was just as mystical, and just as beautiful.  Holding him in my arms as he took his last breath on Sunday, March 9th at 1:20 pm was surely a  paradoxical honor, however we would not have had it any other way.

Our Caregiving journey ended on Sunday, March 9, yet this is not the end ofSchiffer blend our love, we just get the chance to know and love each other in a different way.  Words can’t describe how I feel at this moment, but I take comfort in knowing that he is pain-free and he left this world with a beautiful smile on his face.  When I placed his head back down on the pillow after his last breath, I knew that he was in a better place;  no stress, no strife, no agony, only peace.  I’m sure my faith will grant me those same gifts in the months ahead.

We have been on this Caregiving journey for over two years now, yet it seems like yesterday when I wrote my first post on ‘The Purple Jacket.”   Writing proved to be therapeutic for both of us, however, it is strange to realize  that the only two posts that we will never get to share with each other is this post and the post from last week, Approaching The Final Destination.  I do take comfort in knowing that TLO enjoyed reading about our Caregiving journey as much as I enjoyed writing about it.

The comfort and love I have felt from family and friends over the past week has been heartfelt.  May it continue. While on this Caregiving journey, so many people have touched our lives along they way.  I am so grateful for all   your words of encouragement. Denise Brown from Caregiving.com and her vast network of Caregivers who have been our extended family during our journey, are friends for life.  Even in the midst of the intensity of daily Caregiving, Denise and our extended family have been there at a moment’s notice to extend comfort.  Word’s can’t describe how wonderful TLO’s primary care physician, Dr. Milica Starcevic of Broward Health, has been to us during our time in her care.   Dr. Starcevic’s genuine care and concern for us will always have a special place in my heart.  It goes without saying how wonderful the entire staff at Gold Coast Hospice treated us as well.  The word that comes directly to mind when thinking about the staff at Gold Coast Hospice is ‘authentic.’  There was not one staff member who walked into our room who was not authentic in their care for both of us.  Like ministry, working in Hospice is a special calling, not everyone can do it, but the staff that we met from the administrator down, was just splendid.  We never had a worry or concern, the entire Hospice staff honored us and our relationship.

For me, life does move on, just in a different way.  As much as the two of us talked about ‘this day,’ one can never prepare for an experience like this.  He is forever in my heart, sealed with that lasting smile he left for20120407-001829.jpg me when he made his transition.  One thing that TLO asked, well…demanded…is that I start to take better care of myself.  That is my immediate intention, to create some  ‘healing ties’ so that I can become  stronger mentally and to get physically fit because on Monday, March 10th I haven’t only started a new chapter in my life, I started a new Caregiving journey as well.  That new journey is to be a Caregiver for myself.   Many caregivers have this trait where we put our needs second to the needs of our Caree.  It is easy to say we are going to take better care of ourselves, but harder to do when you’re in the midst of Caregiving.  My advocacy in the days, months and years ahead will focus on the importance of Caregivers taking better care of themselves because it is important not only for the Caregiver, but important for the Caree as well.  If I can learn to be half the caregiver to myself as I was to TLO, I think I’ll be in pretty good shape.  Following this path allows me to be with him while honoring his wishes for me to take better care of myself:  It’s a ‘win/win’ don’t you think?

As I write this on ‘The Purple Jacket”, I do not have any fancy words to share or meaningful slogans to portray, I just want to tell you about a story of love.  Two people connecting from different sides of the religious aisle, making a go at life, while forming a meaningful relationship that even to this day,  is difficult to describe.  TLO might have been slight in stature, but he stood tall in life.  With few regrets and quite a bit of joy, TLO lived his life his way. I have learned so much about being strong from him. He was and still is my best friend, pal and partner. My Caregiving cape wanted to fix everything inside of his body; eleven years just whisked by within one week in hospice with me asking that final day…”Lord, can’t I have just one more hour, one more minute to know him..to love him?”   As I gently laid his head back on the pillow after he made his transition, I was comforted to see a smile on his face.  I knew he was pain TLOCJMfree and I knew that he left this world in love and yes, he did beat Cancer!

In the weeks ahead, there will be a few announcements on ‘The Purple Jacket’ about special events that are in the works to celebrate the life of Bernard Richard Schiffer.  Our Caregiving journey has been documented over the past seven months with reporters from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel; filled with video and pictures of the two of us,  we look forward to sharing that article with you when published is just a few short weeks.   I will be writing again in the months ahead, but this space here on ‘The Purple Jacket’ is reserved for my best friend, pal and life partner, Bernard Richard Schiffer for without him, there would be no ‘Purple Jacket!’

But for now,  I must take a breath and get some rest.

   You seeWe Might Have Had Cancer: But Cancer NEVER had us.  The thing we have is Love and come to think about it, Love is the most important gift of all!

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Approaching The Final Destination


I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love ~ Mother Teresa

With TLO’s recent diagnosis that his cancer has spread to multiple parts of his body,  I have to admit this news, along with intense Caregiving over the past month, has put me in a position where I have hit the wall with LifeChangesblogging. While  I’ve learned over the past two years  that writing about TLO’s bout with esophageal cancer has provided a great deal of comfort for both of us, I now find it interesting that writing about the end stages of our Caregiving journey to be a tad more difficult. 

And that is precisely where we are at in our Caregiving journey, we are at the end-stage.

TLO was admitted to Gold Coast Hospice as an inpatient  on Monday, March 3rd.  We are in a small 8 unit facility under the umbrella of Broward Health. With the mindset that we were going to inpatient care Hospice-1“just for a few days for an evaluation and re-set of his medications;”  we have since learned that God and TLO’s body had other plans.

 The last thing he said to me on Monday night was…”Please go home and get some rest, I will be OK here and we’ll see each other in the morning.”  Reluctantly I agreed with him and headed home.  Now knowing that this is going to be our  last lucid conversation we have on this journey is fitting, for in  his time of strife, his  concern and love for me was first and foremost in his mind. We tend to share that similar trait when caring for each other.

TLO has been resting comfortably in our hospice suite since Tuesday; in and out of consciousness, his little body is ravished by cancer.   “We don’t know how this man has lived so long with the amount of cancer that is 1385583_607513719290066_905165614_n (1)inside of him,” the hospice doctor said to me Friday. “It is only by the grace of God and the love that the two of you have that has kept this man alive.” The Doctor’s words are comforting because it has taken me a few days to get beyond the quick transition from our Monday evening conversation, to finding him resting peacefully since my arrival on Tuesday morning. I suspect that he needed that time alone on Monday night moving into Tuesday morning, so that he could rest and prepare for his journey.   

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TLO with my sister Sissy, Feb 11, 2014

While in the midst of Caregiving, we often lose sight of what is transpiring right in front of us because we are so intent on service and care. Trips for radiation become routine because that is something that is just a part of our day?  With one of my sisters here helping us for the past month, I’ve come to realize that what I might think is a routine day, is totally off the charts by normal standards. I’m sure most family caregivers can get in touch with that. 

“If you could look inside his body you would understand what is going on inside of him” was another comment the hospice doctor said to me on Friday.  This ‘trip’ has been hard for me to accept because I am so used to him just getting up and continuing on.  He is such a fighter! Yet this ‘trip ‘ is just a little bit different because he has acknowledged that he is tried, he has acknowledged that he is ready and from our previous conversations,  he knows that I am going to be safe.  So in just a few short hours, I have had to learn how to separate my emotions from the reality that we face; TLO was able to do that after I left on Monday night. In fact, he had prepared for this day longer than I have ever realized.

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Chris and TLO at SunServe’s Hat and Garden Party 2013

I have had to put into perspective that this journey just did not start on Monday of this week, this journey started over three years ago in a little Greek restaurant in Indianapolis when there was the first indication that something might be wrong with his throat.  Through all the tests and tribulations of the last three years, not to mention the original diagnosis of 3 to 4 months to live in 2011, I’d say we have had a pretty darn good run at it.  Up until recently, we have had more good days and bad, and along the way on this journey, we have met so many wonderful friends from around the world who simply ask…”How’s TLO”.  The Caregiving community is so vast, so strong and so very comforting;  Where would we have been without you!

TLO is just mighty fine my friends!  He is resting peacefully, and we have been able to communicate through touch and some words.  He now gets to run the show and call the shots. Actually, he’s been doing that for quite some time, I’ve just been here proud to be along for the ride.  Right now I just want to be his partner, holding him close, caressing and kissing him while telling him that I love him with an everlasting love.  His squeeze of my hand gives me strength and helps take my sadness away.

You seeCancer is not winning here.  Love is winning here.

The Bow Tie Guys

 

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Capture Every Moment


In our Cancer Caregiving Journey, we know that on some days,  the tumor has a mind of its own!  For the most part, the good days have outweighed the bad days. We are thankful for that!

When ‘TLO’ (The Little One) feels good, we try to take advantage of every opportunity that is presented to us.  Our Saturday night featured a trip to the Ice Cream Parlor. (We know how those little ones like Ice Cream!)

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When we have these ‘Caregiving’ moments, I am reminded how lucky I have been to be a part of this journey.  Yes, there are hard days for both of us, but all those hard days are thrown out the window when we  capture moments like these and just be who we are.  Reality is what it is, but that does not mean we can’t beat it!

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Capture Every Moment, You will not regret it!

Remember, We might have Cancer…

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But Cancer Does Not Have Us!

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This Is Just Like Real Life!


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Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you. Aldous Huxley

My featured guest Thursday night on ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on Blog Talk Radio was Lisa Fields from @PracticalWisdom. I knew she would be a dynamite guest, and that proved to be true because Lisa does offer us Practical Wisdom!

303366_10151039308328707_2074390602_nDoing live, Internet radio does come with its challenges, tonight was one of them as Lisa and I had a 5 to 10 second delay in our conversation with each other. The ‘delay’ in the conversation made it challenging for us, yet my trusted co-host, Diane Hawn was able to pitch in and help make the conversation and show go smoothly. I can’t thank them enough for their kindness and willingness to ‘go with the flow!’

As Caregivers, we often have to just go with the flow. Just 90 minutes before tonight radio show, TLO had a terrible experience while eating dinner. The esophagus and tumor does have its own schedule! AT 6:45 pm, we thought we were heading to the hospital, thankfully TLO’s trouble passed and he was able to rest peacefully: at 8:05 pm I am dealing with tech problems with a radio program. Just what is the big picture here?

Lisa, the great sport that she is simply said, “This is just like real life!”235354tir0fftkh What a great dose of Practical Wisdom! Life is full of trials and tribulations: the calamity of tonight’s technology problems pales in comparison to the health issues that Caregivers and their Caree’s face on a daily basis. One minute we are thinking about calling 911, the next minute well…This IS just like real life!

We will be sure to schedule Lisa again for the show, because she does offer such wonderful ‘Practical Wisdom.’ She made a host feel safe and secure in the midst of turmoil with that gentle reminder of why it is important for all Caregivers to tell their story. I think we all need a dose of Practical Wisdom, I am so glad that I had mine this evening!

You see, we might have Cancer,

SONY DSCBut Cancer does not have us!

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To learn more about Lisa Fields visit!

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End Of Life Wishes: Sometimes You Just Have To Ask.


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The Purple Jackety Highly recommends Caregiving.com

The Purple Jacket Highly recommends Caregiving.com

On Saturday,  Richard and I were guest on ‘Your Caregiving Journey’ hosted by Denise Brown from Caregiving.com You can listen to the show by simply clicking here. 

Our conversation today came out of a discussion that Denise and I had a couple of weeks ago about a decision I made to withhold information from Richard after he completed his radiation and chemotherapy treatments where the oncologist estimated that he had 3 to 4 months to live.    We also talked about a variety of other  end of life topics that are often difficult to discuss, yet important to get out in the open.

Having a discussion with your partner or caree on such a sensitive topic can be difficult, but so essential in order to Be A Healthy Caregiver. 

During our discussion, Richard spoke about his desires when his pain becomes too great, 20111225-083619.jpgdescribed what a good day feels like and shared what he whats from me as his partner and caregiver on a daily basis. Sometimes it is a simple as…’When something is wrong with me, you will be the first to know, until then, just let me be!

Denise and I talked about the challenge of letting go of my own beliefs and emotions when it comes to Richard’s  wishes.  As I mentioned on the show, Richard and I come for different faith traditions which has  different perspectives and philosophies when it comes to end of life hands touchgindecisions. However as his partner and his caregiver, it is essential for me to put aside my own personal beliefs so that I can honor what Richard wants.

As Caregivers and life partners, we often forget that we are not the ones who are sick.  While we share in our care and concern for each other, when it comes to these critical issues, it is important to follow the wishes of the one who is ill.

End of life discussions are never easy to have.  Richard and I have both buried our partners and while we both have previous experience in this subject, it does not make it any easier. We just know that we have to have this discussion.

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Herman & Richard 1990’s

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Richard & Chris late 1980’s

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Richard & Chris 2012

Find a way to have that end-of-life discussion…

Below are some great example of how to start this conversation along with some great questions to to get the conversation going provided by Denise Brown at Caregiving.com

“If you feel uncomfortable, simply say, “I’m uncomfortable with what I’m about to ask, but I’ve been giving some thought to your last months. I want to make sure I understand what you what and need. Would you be up to having a discussion?” And then go from there. The discussion is a process which means you might continue the conversation over several days and weeks and month. And, as your caree’s health changes, you’ll want to revisit the discussion to ensure your caree’s wishes haven’t changed.”

These questions can help during your discussion:

1. How do you want to spend your last months and weeks and days?

2. What do you want from me during your last months?

3. What’s a good day like for you? (This is a good question to ask regularly as the definition of a “good day” will change.)

4. Do you have any unfinished business you’d like to finish?

5. How do you feel about dying? What do you think happens after we die?

If you haven’t visited Denise Brown at Caregiving.com now is the time to do so.  Richard and I consider Denise and all the members of Caregiving.com as our extended family.   Denise is a true leader in the Caregiving community.

Remember…We Might Have Cancer…

img_19122012_204936But Cancer Does Not Have US!

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Remember…Blame the Disease, Not The Caree!


When I was a kid, one of my favorite roller coasters was the Zephyr at the old Pontchartrain Beach amusement park in New Orléans.  Those steep curves and big drops were exhilarating, especially when the car made the turn to come back to the station ― when for a moment you thought  that you were going to fly into Lake Pontchartrain only to feel the car make that big pull to the left at the last second and head back to home base.  They do not make Roller Coasters like that anymore! 

Being a caregiver at times is like riding a roller coaster: up the hill, down the hill, swaying through the curves that Caregiving brings to us on a daily basis.  I know I must have ridden the Zephyr over a 100 times in my life, so I knew what to expect and could anticipate the bumps and curves as the car sped down the track.

Caregiving can change at a moment’s notice and… without any warning.  When your anxiety heightens, that is precisely the time when you have to be calm in the presence of your caree.    All of a sudden, those steep curves look ominous; those hills become daunting.

  • When your caree lashes out at you, take a step back and assess the situation; more times than not, it is the disease talking, not the caree.
  • Be attentive, not condescending.
  •  Be proactive, not reactive.
  • As a caregiver, remember you are not the one who is sick.

‘The Little One’ taught me this lesson as he related stories of being a caregiver for his partner Herman who passed away in 1999 from Alzheimer’s.  “As mad as I would get with Herman, I had to remind myself that it was the disease talking and not the man who I had known for 43 years.”   Over the last 48 hours, I have been reminded of this story quite a number of times as we are currently in the mist of change with ‘The Little One’s’ health.  We never know when the tumor is going to act up, but when it does, it takes its toll.   We are hoping that ‘this roller coaster’ gets back on track and pulls into the station .

When riding the Zephyr  I could anticipate the bumps and curves on the track, and I knew that I would always end up back at the station; however our health and well-being is not so predictable.  So when those bad days surface, we both take comfort in knowing that it is the disease, not the person.   Mindful that the person you love and care for, will always be inside your heart no matter what is inside their body.

You see…We Might Have Cancer…

 But Cancer Does Not Have Us! 

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Be A Healthy Caregiver On Blog Talk Radio Tuesday at 1:00 pm


Join us on Tuesday November 6th at 1:00 pm for   ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on ‘Blog Talk Radio‘  with our special  guest Michael Norfeet, Program Director of the Noble A. McArtor Adult Day Care Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Respite care is essential in the equation on how to Be a Healthy Caregiver. Participation in Adult Day Care often prevents re-hospitalization and and may delay admission to residential long term care.  For participants who would otherwise stay at home alone, the social stimulation  and recreational activities may improve or maintain physical or cognitive functions. For Caregivers, Adutl Day Care Center provides respite care, enabling caregivers to work or have a break from their Caregiving responsibilities.

Join us on Tuesday November 6th at 1:00 pm for ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ on Blog Talk Radio by clicking here

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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!

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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”

 

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