Tag Archives: Radiation therapy

Thursday’s are always ‘Hug A Caregiver Day!’

Caregiving can sometimes be hard:

But Hugging a Caregiver is easy!



Caregiving Heart

Listen to: 

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‘”Be A Healthy Caregiver” is on hiatus while “TLO” is undergoing radiation treatments.  We plan on being back on the Air in January!

Can’t listen live…NO WORRIES!

All of our episodes of ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ are archived for your listening convenience by clicking here! 

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Filed under Caregiving, The Purple Jacket

Thursday are always ‘Hug A Caregiver Day!’

Caregiving can sometimes be hard:

But Hugging a Caregiver is easy!


Listen to: 

cjmbtr (1)

 My Show, ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ is on Hiatus while TLO is going through Radiation Treatment, we will be back on the air in December!

 However all of our episodes of ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ are archived for your listening convenience by clicking here! 


Filed under Caregiving, The Purple Jacket

On Being An Advocate

Knowledge is knowing what we do not know:  Ralph Waldo Emerson


As we move into the second week of TLO’s palliative radiation treatments, we experienced a few challenges over this past weekend that needed the attention of the Hospice Nurse.   I knew it was just a matter of time before we would enlist their services, it is comforting to know that our ‘friends’ at Hospice of Broward County are just a phone call away.

One of the most important components to being a Caregiver is to know your strengths, and to know your weaknesses. While I know I have a Ph.D. in TLO, I am also aware of my (many) limitations.  I’m not a pharmacist, doctor or nurse. Remember…Knowledge is knowing what we do not know.  My strength in Caregiving is  advocacy; Advocacy is without a doubt the most, if not the most important role of a Caregiver.  My Ph.D. in TLO comes in handy when it is time to advocate.  We will get to that in just a few!

When a new problem arises, there  is no time to guess, wonder out loud, talk about it…it’s time to act.  Rather…it is time to advocate!  TLO had started toID-10053858 show signs of Edema is his feet and ankles on Thursday. Aware that he has congestive heart failure to go along with the myriad of his health calamities the extreme Edema was something new to his health care puzzle. While I ‘knew’ an additional dose of furosimde would probably be the solution, (as well as elevating his legs), I did not know if adding the additional dose  would be appropriate with the new MEDs that have been prescribed over the last week.  A quick call by the Hospice nurse during her home visit on Thursday ensured a quick call to the Doctor to secure the increase the furosimde dosage.    Done! 

As we moved into Sunday, water continued to build on his feet and ankles, “the Edema was getting worse” I thought. “I am going to call Hospice,” I said to TLO. “What are they going to do for me” TLO said. “I’m pretty sure they are going to be able to do more than I can do for you at the moment because what is happening right now is just a tad out of my comfort zone.” I said. When the phone rang at Hospice,  I was greeted by a warm voice who listened as we talked through a couple of options that might help in this situation.  My Ph.D. in TLO comes in handy when debating with him what is the right thing to do.

While there was really no resolution on Sunday to his Edema, things started to change on Monday with a few calls and a visit from the Hospice Medical Director.  It was perfect timing for the Doctor to make her home visit as we were able to address first hand not only the Edema, but the entire care plan and philosophy of TLO’s care as we move forward in our Hospice Journey.   Having the Doctor in our home for over two hours not only paid medical dividends for TLO, her presence demonstrated to both of us the special care that Hospice provides its patients.  The doubter of Hospice,  TLO became the believer after her visit.  “How did you get her to come to the house,” TLO asked…’She came because your a special patient,” I retorted!

ID-10055013What amazed me about her visit was not only the care she provided to TLO, but the time that she took to educate me on his MEDs; the Doctor was there for both of us! While going through his MEDs, the Doctor provided me with a ‘cheat sheet’, written out in layman terms so that I would have a better grasp of the new  pain MEDs.   Remember the thing about knowledge!  Now I am in a better position to advocate because I’ve gained more knowledge about the process with his new MEDs.

Advocacy comes in many shapes styles and forms;  I’m not the type of advocate who is in your face, raises his voice, or creates a scene.  However, I will engage professionals, ask questions until I am blue in the face to assure TLO has what he needs.  Often times, we as Caregivers forget that we do have a Ph.D. in the one we care for.  Our Ph.D. is just as important as any professional who is on the care-team because we spend the most time with our Caree and know them the best.  That’s why the role of advocacy is essential in Caregiving.  Physicians can write prescriptions, nurses can administer treatments, CNA’s can provide care, yet the key component to all these professional services is the personal knowledge or rather, the Ph.D. Caregiver’s have on their  Caree.  All these care components have to be in unison for optimal success.

Caregivers’s Ph.D. usually come just like those professional Ph.D.’s…burning the midnight oil, sleepless nights, worry, stress, etc.  Caregivers advocacy is like taking an oral test in school, you have to be prepared for the unexpected, you must show up and give it your best try!  Knowing what I don’t know has helped me be a better advocate;  having a Ph.D. in TLO is priceless!

Caregivers, I bet you have a Ph.D, too!

You see…we might have Cancer, but Cancer does not have us!



Filed under Caregiving, The Purple Jacket

Hello and Please, Come In!

Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement…Ronald Reagan

20131023-101238.jpgAs we walked into the office at the radiation oncologist this morning TLO proclaimed to the staff ‘ I’m here, let the games begin!’ Of course his ‘proclamation’ was greeted with a big smile by the staff as he sat down in the waiting room waiting for his time in the radiation ‘whirlybird!’  We are trying to find as much humor as possible as we can during this trying time. 

The current plan of radiation treatment is focused on the tumor which is located in the cervical part of the spine. This is the area where TLO is experiencing the most amount of pain and discomfort. Because of its location, this is the tumor that is of the greatest concern.    The last two nights at home have been difficult for him.  The pain across his back makes it difficult for him to lay down comfortably in bed, sometimes the recliner is the most comfortable spot for him.  The most important part of this process is to alleviate as much of his pain  as possible.  So, where ever he feels is the most comfortable spot for him, I’m all for it!


Our New Curtains 

After yesterday’s treatment, we went for an ice coffee and found ourselves in a department store looking at curtains of all things.  I can’t remember the last time we were even in a department store!  TLO wanted new curtains for the dining room, ‘why not’ I said!   In between his naps yesterday, I hung the curtains which lead to a conversation this morning prior to our departure for today’s treatment.  ‘Thanks for agreeing on the curtains, don’t you think they are beautiful,’ TLO said.  ‘Of course they are because you picked them out,’ I said with a smile. ‘It’s important to have things that you want, isn’t,’ he said? ‘Of course so,’ I replied. ‘If there is anything you want, I will do my best to get it for you!’

Nothinggoesaway As we have progressed through the first few days of the radiation treatment, we know that we are just starting to scratch the surface to our emotions, our fears, and our determination.  Today’s session has taken quite a bit out of TLO as evident by how terrible he is feeling this afternoon.  We know that Cancer is an unwelcome guest in our home, but this unwelcome guest has brought with it the ability for us to draw closer, to dig deeper into the surface of our emotions and fears, while strengthening  our determination.    I guess there is something to learn from an unwelcome guest!

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

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Filed under Caregiving, The Purple Jacket

“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!


Filed under Caregiving, The Purple Jacket

Moving Forward

With no test scheduled until the middle of March, we look ahead thankful for the break from the radiation and chemotherapy, yet concerned as we move forward. Cancer takes so much out of everyone; its not a disease that leaves quietly, but rather lingers on in our mist.  Treatments are a necessity; aftereffects are unknown.

“The Little One” reminds me on a day to day basis  that he has lost a step or two.  Not wanting to admit it, but I see it too. We hold out so much hope for a full recovery, and in our mind and in our hearts, we know we have been given extended stay.  Why not make the most of it, even if its just a step or two slower?

Giving up control is such a hard thing to do.  (Where is that Tumor Extractor when you need it!)  One of the hardest things to do as a Caregiver is to give up control, but this is an essential element of being a caregiver.  We want to take control of the disease, take control of the loved one, take control of everything in our paths in order to provide the utmost care.  Yet it is when we give up control that we really care: What is here today, is gone tomorrow.  Yet in our thoughts and in our prayers, we only want to do what is best.

“The Little One” knows that he has lost a step or two; who wouldn’t after having 30 radiation treatments to go along with 6 sessions of Chemotherapy? I see it, too…but that does not detour us.  There will be good days, there will be bad days and there will be more days of beauty.  We can only go by how the day takes us, which in turn means giving up control and being free from what binds us!


Filed under Caregiving, The Purple Jacket