I’ve been seeing things about ‘carers’ for people with cancer. Like… paid carers are a thing sure, but also partners, parents, probably children in some cases, maybe friends… Still makes me think more of terminal people who are slowly dying and need constant care. Probably mostly what this term is meant to mean. Though to be fair, most people in Ambulatory Care have at least one or even two people with them at all times. I don’t, but I don’t feel like I need someone there with me constantly!
Anyway, then I came across them described as ‘hidden carers’. I don’t think any of this applies to me as much as some people, but Macmillan describes a carer as (and this is a bit abridged on my part):
‘Someone who provides unpaid support to a family member or friend who could not manage without this help. Not everyone identifies with the term carer. You may think of yourself as a partner, family member or friend who is just doing their bit to help. Caring can mean many things including helping with everyday chores, being a good listener, helping with personal care. The person who spends the most time looking after someone with cancer is usually referred to as their main carer.’
Charlie definitely does more than his normal share of washing up dishes these days when I’m not feeling very strong, he does more cooking than usual (though I think he’s just happy to have me out of the kitchen, no longer able telling him what he should do and in what specific way… Control freak? Oh ya).
Our life has definitely needed to turn into nights spent on the couch (binge watching First Dates – cringe but whatever) instead of being out every night, and me whining at him to come home and entertain me because I’m bored. Though we do as much as we can and still get out and do things!
But on top of that, he’s there if I need him to be, even taking a day off work if I have a tricky appointment or something I need him there for. He uproots his life for 3 out of every 5 weeks to live in a hotel with me and live off oven meals and takeaways. Never a complaint from him. He puts up with a lot, but I don’t think he necessarily sees it that way.
He runs out to get things for me from the shop when I’m connected to all my bags of chemo and have something I desperately want (Apple juice! Chocolate milk! Grapes! Potato salad!), and really just does the little things that are difficult for me to do like running downstairs to grab the takeaway (I don’t run anywhere very fast when I have to strap all my chemo bags on to me first!).
Not to mention he likes me bald and hasn’t been deterred by the tubes or anything. Not even by those couple of times he injected me because I couldn’t do it, or when he shaves my head for me every Saturday morning. Also he remains a calming influence when I get bothered by things, like that time my backpack alarm was going off at 10pm at night and I was a bit scared…
I still don’t think the word ‘carer’ is quite right because I don’t really necessarily need him to ‘care’ for me, and I don’t think he thinks he’s ‘caring’ for me, I’m still pretty self sufficient, but he definitely deserves a shout out. A huge one. Or 20. For everything extra he’s taken on, and all the things he’s done to help out. He’s amazing.
Thanks love, you’re my hero.
There, now that’s a more fitting word.