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Doctor talking to a patient and caregiver

Not Just Me, We Have Lung Cancer

Since being diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, I’ve often said, “WE” were diagnosed. It wasn’t just me, the one with lung cancer tumors in my lungs and spine. It was me and my boyfriend. We were a team. We were going to face this beast and get through this together.

Our relationship was strong when terminal lung cancer entered our lives. We had our future planned out.

We didn’t plan for this…

Those plans never included a life-altering disease, let alone an additional life-altering disease plus a debilitating stroke. Our plans had us married and living happily ever after, well into our senior years. We never used the actual word “caregiver” when we talked about taking care of each other in a caregiving way. When we did talk about caring for each other through marriage, it was something projected way into the future. Talk would generally include a joke or a laugh or two and comments about grey hair and wrinkles, Alzheimer’s, poor eyesight or a broken hip.

It’s just talk when you are healthy. You never expect anything bad to happen. It was only a fraction of a real thought when it was presented during an insurance sales pitch. After the pitch, you either sign up for long term care or you don’t and you go on with your healthy life, not thinking about it again.

Our changing relationship

Our lives and roles changed when we were diagnosed with lung cancer. Jeremy was no longer my boyfriend and my future husband. He is my caregiver. I was no longer his healthy girlfriend and his future wife. I am his patient.

I’m the reason behind every decision he makes. It isn’t to include me in the thought process, it’s to weigh out the consequences and factor in how it will affect me, my quality of life, and my needs. Jeremy and I never made it to the altar with wedding vows, but this is a prime example of, “for better or for worse”.

Shouldering the weight of this diagnosis

It’s been over three years since we were diagnosed with lung cancer. I’ve handled the mental aspects, grief, treatments, cancer progression, and additional medical conditions fairly well, considering what I’m up against.

It has taken quite a toll on Jeremy. He stepped into the caregiver role without hesitation in August 2015 and has never looked back or given himself a break. He never took the time, at first or along the way, to process exactly what was happening to me, to him, and how everything has impacted and changed our relationship.

The pressures and added responsibilities Jeremy has put on himself have been building and compiling since 2015. His attitude and actions are a reflection of this. I need some help, caregiving, and encouragement. But not so much he can’t step back and give himself a needed break.

Care for the caregiver

Being a caregiver is a choice, but caregivers need to choose to care for themselves as well. We are a team. We need both us to be strong and mentally healthy to face this beast and get through this together.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The LungCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • meag
    8 months ago

    Caregivers are the unsung heros & an essential part of the healing process. They can’t help to overlook themselves sometimes-it’s the nature of the job. But they need to stop and take a breath and refresh themselves. They need to be recognized for the position they play! I love you, Buddy! You are my life line, my strength.

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