What can I do for a family member with cancer?
Cancer is a burden on the entire family. Stress, ambiguity, uncertainty and fear pile up until the patient might start to feel guilty for being the family member with cancer.
Rodney’s family experienced quite a pile-up during the year before his cancer. He lost his long-term newspaper job. His next newspaper went out of business. Their car was totaled by a driver on a cell phone. His family was robbed on vacation. Then, leukemia.
There was a silver lining, of course, Rodney’s unemployment allowed him to focus all of his energy on beating the cancer, though that didn’t help much, some days.
“I can’t honestly sit here and say I’m glad I don’t have a job,” Rodney writes, “Even though not having one lifts an entire metric ton of weight off my shoulders in terms of needing to get things done, organized, taken care of, worried about.”
How did Rodney’s family ease his burden?
Taking care of a sick person is one thing, easing their guilt of being extra work is another. Though maybe it wasn’t conscious at first, the Curtis family cracked the code to family happiness:
Don’t let the illness take away your loved one.
Not just physically and spiritually, but keep them in your family as if nothing has changed. During his recovery, Rodney still entertained his girls, playing Disney movies on the side of his house in the evening and spending hours coming up with Christmas cards.
When Rodney’s family all came down with seasonal sicknesses, Rodney was overjoyed.
“My family is sick,” he writes. “Today is my lucky day.”
Turning the tables on his family and being able to take care of them for a day made all the difference in the world. Just because you have a family member with cancer, doesn’t mean you’ve lost a family member.