It is funny how the universe works when you are looking for answers. Bits and pieces of unrelated experiences floating cross your landscape to the world, while you seek relevance.
Lately I have been immersed in the world of a certain type of caregiver, the one that is having to dedicate all of their time in the care of someone that needs total care, and looking at that same situation from the one in need of that care, the question of quality of life for both patient and the caregiver are rarely spoken openly and their support through this journey is so very limited, if at all. I know that healing the mind is a key component when healing the body, yet I see little in the way of support for full time caregiver whose nemesis is not enough time and the patient when the state of medical practice, is just not there for their illness.
The other day I was looking up ideas for some fundraising event coming up soon and hit on this poem that resonated with me.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (1874–1963)TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
When I first joined the ranks of the Relay For Life fighters, my first thought was that advocacy would be my weapon of choice. I would seek out the need and let their stories be my guide for the work we do. We are fulfilling many needs with our efforts, but we have so many others, going unfulfilled.
One third of the population of Canada and the US is provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend. The typical family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman caring for her widowed 69-year-old mother who does not live with her. She is married and employed. More than 37% of caregivers have children or grandchildren under 18 years old living with them. Spend an average of 20 hours per week caring for their loved ones while 13% of family caregivers are providing 40 hours of care a week or more. They just don’t have the time to look after themselves. And when things begin to go downhill for their loved ones as they often do, suffer alone.
I’ve been the shoulder to cry on for a few friends going through cancer and the ones that opened my eye are the second timer, who’s cancer, had returned. Two of these people are people are is polar in their circumstances and their stance while being the same. One is on his third fight with an inoperable cancer and does not wish to go through thin chance chemo offers, for the probable side effects he will have to live with forever. The other is on her forth fight with cancer for which cancer has taken so much of her body. She wonders if the fight is worth it, when all that she was, is gone and is now need of total care.
In my mind’s eye, both these people need care, support and a voice. Caregivers spend vast amounts of time, money, sacrificing career, family and emotional health in the care for another. And the support available to all concerned when the odds are no longer in your favor and time is all but run out, are linked.
I am still lost in all this, but I have started down the path less traveled, to learn how to truly help and hope I can make a difference.
I do know we need to be their warrior
to both these groups of people
when time as all but gone
are left silently screaming to be heard
We need to be their voice.