On 01.02.02, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Too late for surgery, I had chemotherapy, which failed. In May the chemotherapy was changed and I was soon in remission which was celebrated and welcome and lasted nine years - until October 2011. There was progression in 2011 so more treatment was indicated and I am now back in partial remission. But I'm not only a cancer patient - I also enjoy my family, walk my dogs and am learning to draw and paint. Life is good!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Does it have to be this or that?

Caretakers have a difficult lot.  Take Steve, for example.  Since his retirement he has taken over the laundry and cooking.  But this year, this whole year that I've been on one sort of treatment or another, he's also taken me to appointments, made the bed, kept the yard watered and weeded, tended the chickens, walked the dogs, escorted Youngest Daughter to her day program, vacuumed, dusted, and who knows what else.  When it comes to steppin' up to life, he's an obvious model.

Sometimes, in moments of gratitude and appreciation, I say things like, "I hope I can do as much for you if you ever need help."  But it always falls hollow because no one (except me) expects me to be around long enough to witness his decline.  But the chance to reciprocate is still one of my goals.

Lately, however, we've gotten into a bit of a wrangle.  He says things like, "You're doing too much" - because I'm flattened after a day of exertion.  And I answer with things like, "But what's the point of staying alive if I can't do the things that bring me joy?"

We both have valid points.  I'm not sure if it's coincidence or correlation - there hasn't been enough time to observe - but lately it does seem as though a long day is followed by bed rest.  Steve says things like, "Your present job is to get well" and that also makes sense.  However, what if the rest of my days are like this and I perpetually defer doing what I enjoy because I was striving to get well?

And so it goes, a wrangle, as I said.  We have agreed on a solution.  I'm trying very hard to strategize.  I really want to be out of the house a couple hours every day - for fun or errands, it doesn't matter - but that might be my limit.  Or, if something major comes up - like my recent treks to Sacramento and Davis - I need to unschedule the following days so I have time to pull it back together.

I've never had to live like this before, planning and finagling bits of energy out of myself.  And that, of course, brings up the other solution that can be done at the same time:  Build up energy.  Walking daily, for example, helps me have more energy to expend in the first place if I don't walk marathons on Day One.  Just walking a grateful dog around the block a couple times during the day helps me a lot.

And so, while my job is getting well, and while I struggle to do what's most important to me, and while I hope to stay alive to care for Steve should the need arise, those are the sorts of plans I have.  Walk more.  Do something each day.  Find the balance between activity and rest.  Trust me, this is more difficult than it sounds.


  1. Anonymous2:52 PM

    Hi Barb ... your difficulty in finding that balance rings so true. It took me a long time to come to the point where I saw giving up one thing for another was my new normal. In fact, I find myself coping best when my normal is re-defined on a daily basis. At first I felt that giving up meant giving in, but now I know that giving up some things could mean longer to enjoy the rest. Truth be known, no one should have to make these decisions...

  2. Hi Anon - I like the daily basis part, another thing for me to factor in. Thanks for stopping by!


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