Bladder Cancer: Effects on Those Around Us
When your world is turned upside down after hearing the "C" word at a diagnosis consultation - it also rocks the world of those around you.
Those closest to you rally around to provide you emotional and practical support to ease the burden the cancer has brought to your life. They have their own journey, to begin with emotions and feelings to process.
Coping with the guilt
The feeling of "guilt" of this sometimes is hard for a patient to cope with. They feel like it is them and not the cancer which has brought the burden to their family or even their wider family and friend circle.
It’s important that, as a patient we are somewhat selfish. This doesn't come naturally to most. However, it is important you work on understanding any diagnosis, treatment plans, options, and next steps rather than worry about others. It would help if you conserved all the energy you have.
Your friends and family will find their own paths. They will reach out to others to form their support networks.
Realizing the emotional impact of bladder cancer
At the time of my illness, my husband was not only supporting me but also supporting my immediate family as they understandably struggled to come to terms with my diagnosis and the severity of my illness.
One of the most vivid, emotional, heart-wrenching, and overwhelming moments throughout my journey was when I was on the trolley and taken from my room on the ward. The hospital portal wheeled me to the lift.
My husband stood at the end of my bed. I will never forget the moment the lift doors shut and my husband was taken from view, and I was taken down to the operating theatre.
A letter from my loving husband
Around 6 months later, I was raising money for a UK ostomy support charity. My husband wasn't familiar with the charity donation sites and the fact the message with the donation could only be 40 characters. Instead, he shared with me the words he had put together and had wanted to post.
"On the 1st of November 2017 at 8:16 am, I watched you as you were taken on a hospital trolley to the lifts that would take you to the operating theatres. I will never forget the feelings I had as the doors slowly closed, and I knew at that point I was unable to do anymore for you and that you were now fully in the hands of the doctors.
"Many hours later that same day, I was standing at your side again in recovery, feeling relieved that the operation had been a success and to see you looking so alert. The next day when I arrived to visit you, you were already sitting up in a chair, and I saw then and there your determination to fully recover and return to as normal a life as the surgical team had provided to you.
"After only a few weeks, we received the "all clear," and we celebrated by having our first outing since your operation to the Inverkip Hotel for lunch.
"Your determination has allowed you to continue with your recovery making remarkable progress and returning to work just 3 months after the operation. Since then, we have now been able to spend weekends away, book our main holidays with so much to look forward to.
"You are a remarkable woman, and I am proud to call you my wife."
The effect of bladder cancer on family
In the words of Christopher Reeve, "A hero is someone who, despite weakness, doubt or not always knowing the answers, goes ahead and overcomes anyway."
At that moment, I was stopped in my tracks. I was starting to heal, although it was early days. I once again didn't need to be completely "selfish" and had some capacity to think of others. In particular my husband and what he was feeling.
The raw reality of all he had been going through became so apparent. Equally, however, with many conversations that followed, it was clear that the true love and support guided me, often almost invisibly. There is a little virtual push to get me over a line to the next step.
We talked openly about his journey and what he had been through from then on. This became so important for me. We healed together - we grew together.
Emotional support through bladder cancer
It is often a cliché, but it is so true. The shared, the most intensively emotional period in our relationship made us stronger as a couple.
I will always be enterally grateful to my husband for all he did for me then. I am equally grateful to my medical team, which allowed me to still be here and afforded me the chance to make many happier memories together.
Have you ever experienced caregiver burnout?