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  • Writer's pictureBurt Rosen

Is my cancer easier on me than it is on those around me? Spoiler alert: I think it is

This is an argument that I have had before and will continue to have:

Cancer is toughest on those who you are close to

For me, I am sick, yes. I have teams of people focused on me. For example, I have two oncologists, a surgeon, a team of nurses, a social worker, a genetic counselor, three naturopaths, a dietician, support groups, financial advisors, etc. When I walk into an ER, I am in a private room inside of 15 minutes and everyone is doing what they can to take care of me. I guess that's the way it should be and I am beyond lucky that I have that kind of care. A lot of people don't. I am very grateful but also sad at the same time. I know I am privileged.

But, for a minute, let's think about those around me, the true unsung heroes and those who do everything to support me. When they take me to the ER, is anyone talking to them or helping to support them? Do they have a team of people who support them that is automatically launched into action? NOPE.

Caregiving, in my opinion, is the hardest job out there. No caregiver has ever asked to be a caregiver, but it's a role that has been thrust upon them and they have to respond to it whether they want to or not (I guess not responding is also an option). Their lives get turned upside down in a heartbeat, and there is just nothing they can do about it. They don't have teams focused on them, their stress, or their well-being. What they have is only built by them, adding another layer of stress to the situation. When you are a caregiver, your support comes from your close friends or others that you choose to involve (and hope they are willing). There are support groups, but no one is sending you a list, you are on your own to find them. It is undoubtedly a time when you discover who your true friends are.

I often think about this. I know this sounds odd, but I worry more about those around me than I do about myself. I am in control of myself to some degree, but they can only advise. Can I be difficult? 100% I can be. I listen when I want, ask only when I want, and don't always agree.

I am constantly thinking about how to be a better "CaredFor" (did I just invent a new word?). I try. I am not great at it but I am trying a lot. Better supporting my friends and family is a key goal for me.

Caregivers, whether a spouse, partner, friend, kid, etc are the most incredible people there are, and a lot of us would never make it if it wasn't for them. I can't thank the people in my life who take care of me and worry about me enough. If it wasn't for them, there is no way that I would be doing as well as I am.

So, to sum up. THANK YOU. You don't get the credit you deserve, but you are the most important piece of the team.

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