by Karen Sewell
There is a lot of information out there about how to be a cancer patient. Drink this. Inject that. Have this surgery. Stay away from these.
There's no guidebook giving instructions on how to be a caregiver. There are no physician consultations to tell you what the next step is in how to provide moral, physical, and emotional support to the person you love that has just been diagnosed with a possibly fatal disease. There are no rules about caring for yourself.
Having been a caregiver for nearly three years to my late husband, who was diagnosed at the age of 22 with stage III testicular cancer, I've been around the block. Here are five things I learned that I hope will help guide other caregivers in your heart-wrenching predicaments everywhere:
1. It's okay to freak out for yourself.
You're already freaking out for your loved one. That one comes naturally. What takes a little bit more consciousness and effort, is to allow yourself to lose it all, come totally unglued, fall apart... all over how this diagnosis is affecting you and your life. You're a person, too. Yes, with needs. Your world just got rocked and while you're busy holding it all together in support of your loved one, you forget how to let go and let your feelings matter, too. I'm here to tell you that it's not just okay to allow yourself to feel and experience the magnitude of what you're dealing with, it's something that I encourage you to do, for your own sake...