Being a Male Caregiver to a Breast Cancer Victim
One of the hardest things for guys in their experience as a caregiver is what I like to call "giving up the remote control." As the term suggests, it's hard to accept that you no longer can determine what you are watching. This can be a hard pattern to break but one that you must break in order to be an effective caregiver.
I know that it is hard not being in control. Once you come to terms with not being able to fix this, the fact that a loved one is battling breast cancer, things get easier. It also helps to understand and internalize that your role is one of support - to be there for your loved one.
What do I mean by "giving up the remote?" It's simple. Let her, the one facing breast cancer, be in control.
We all have the instinct in dealing with a horrible disease like breast cancer to want to protect - and sometimes overprotect - our loved one. For example, let's say you have taken over the cooking for the family, and one day your wife says she wants to cook diner.
Guess what? You let her cook dinner if she is physically able to cook. This will give her a sense of normalcy in turbulent times and be great mental therapy. You can certainly move over and be the food prepper, but let your wife cook. Don't say, "don't worry about it, honey, I have it covered." This can be seen as overprotecting.
Again, I want to emphasize that this is all predicated on her ability to cook, which depends on where she is in treatment. If she is too weak to cook, let her be the prepper, or assistant.
These are ways that you have given up the remote.
More times than not it is baby steps like these that make a huge difference emotionally. You may not even realize it, which is a good thing because that means you have worked this into your life as part of your routine.
Here's another example. Let's say that your wife wants to go to a movie, but some side effects of therapy prevent her from traveling to the theater. Instead of saying no and helping her back to bed or the sofa, get a DVD of her choice, make come popcorn, dim the lights, watch the movie and have your date night together in your own private theater.
Of course, your main priority is always her well-being and comfort, with emphasis on what is appropriate at the time. The next time she wants to go to the movies, you may actually be able to go to the movies.
My highlighting these examples does not mean that you should go to your wife and announce, "I think you should cook dinner tonight," and follow with, "We are going to the movies because it will be good for you." You might get the remote tossed at you if do that. Being encouraging and supportive is all in the presentation, which is lesson for another time.
These are just a couple of examples of giving up the remote that will make a difference in the quality of life of your loved one.
As always, talk this over with her and see what she thinks and feels. Check in with her often so she knows she can count on you not to be too protective. Only you and she can determine that because your situation is unique and requires your unique ability to be there for her.
Remember what Mother Teresa said, "We can do no great things-only small things with great love.