If you’re a caregiver and you’ve found your way to this page, standing ovation for you! I know what it takes to set aside some time to get your needs met.
Facing your life when it has been touched by cancer may mean you feel:
- limited, blocked or even paralyzed by the diagnosis of a loved one
- frustrated or angry with long term symptoms, side effects and the up and down roller coaster ride that can go on for years for your loved one
- unsure of how to find the energy to be engaged in life given all you juggle every day
- fear of the unknown
- uncertain how to create a plan for your life that integrates the changes chronic illness generates
- scared about your future and the impact chronic illness diagnosis of your loved one will have on your life
- a desire to be empowered instead of feeling victimized
As someone who has taken on significant roles as a caregiver, I understand the compassion you bring. I also understand that without support we can end up paying a huge price.
When someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, it can turn your world upside down. Often, the last thing on your mind is what you need. Caring for someone with cancer can compound your concerns and worries, causing a lack of self-care for the caregiver to accrue over time.
If you don’t create some consciousness around your needs and practice your self-care, like a boomerang, it will come right back at you eventually. The sooner you implement a plan to thrive, the better.
“We” have cancer…
In dealing with cancer, it’s not uncommon at some point post-diagnosis for the caregiver to slip into “we” thinking ~ from “my loved one has a chemo treatment” to “we’re going for chemo today.” It’s a slippery slope of enmeshment and, though understandable, it is a red flag moment.
Even though at diagnosis, you too experienced a million questions zooming through your head and most likely landed in overwhelm, you need to create and define clear boundaries for yourself.
In the days, weeks and months post-diagnosis, there is a process you go through whether you are the person receiving the diagnosis or the caregiver. The medical team develops and carries out a strategy for determining the status of the illness and one or more treatment options.
There are many experts in the field of cancer or whatever medical challenge you are facing. They will present specific tools and resources for understanding and managing the diagnosis, treatment and beyond. Caregivers often take on new roles after a diagnosis including one similar to head researcher or chief communications officer. And the more information that comes in, the more roles you’ll likely step into: transportation coordinator, nutritionist, medications specialist, insurance liason, financial analyst, cook and everything else that needs to be done to keep daily life in order.
Dealing with cancer doesn’t have to be a train wreck!
My approach to coaching clients when cancer impacts their life is to view it like a set of train tracks. There are two rails. The medical plan and diagnosis makes up one track. It takes time, energy and resources to manage this aspect as the caregiver even though it isn’t you with the cancer.
The second track is the track called your life. In addition to track one, you need to understand how to manage and have a life as the medical treatment unfolds.
In the early days of Gary’s diagnosis, we were naturally consumed by the process of researching cancer care programs, treatment options and trying to anticipate how Hodgkin’s was going to impact our lives. But once we had track one handled and a plan in place, we did a good job of giving some attention to daily living.
There are issues, concerns, feelings and aspects of grieving to be done that come along with a diagnosis. One of our greatest fears is that of the unknown. Chronic illness tends to open the door to what initially can feel like a vast, unending void. But no matter what you are facing as a caregiver you have a right to living a balanced life that has meaning and purpose.
Stuck in survival mode?
It’s understandable that caring for someone with cancer would put you into survival mode, just as it does for the person living with cancer. Caregivers, too, are just trying to get through the day or the week or past the final treatment. Anything more, like thriving, seems unreachable. While it is eventually possible to lead an extraordinary life of maximum potential, the first step is to move from surviving to thriving. Taking the Energy Leadership Index (ELI) Assessment can reveal how likely you are to go through this challenge white knuckling it or if you can integrate the tools and resources of coaching so you are empowered and able to thrive in spite of the circumstances.
Coaching is a source of support for caregivers as you as you learn to manage a life in the face of a cancer or other chronic illness diagnosis. The ELI Assessment can also help you see how you can:
- optimize your physical energy levels
- find your secret energy stash
- discover ways to reduce stress caused by worry, anxiety or fear
- assess 7 key areas of your life where you can flourish instead of just surviving
- realistically evaluate your resources and ensure you are investing them wisely in living a life, not just treating an illness
Each person’s journey through caregiving is unique. There is also common, shared ground we walk on. Consider me your reluctant expert…and let me help. I don’t regret it, but I paid a high cost as a caregiver. I know what it’s like to be coping as a caregiver. I can help you and your loved ones navigate your path to healing in a way that, together, we reduce the collateral damage so you can live through and beyond the experience without losing so much precious time to fear, worry, conflict and low energy.
Are you ready to thrive?!
Contact me today to find out how a coaching program can support you through this experience as powerfully as possible.