Read Time: 2 minutes
From time to time, Huntsman Cancer Institute invites guest commentary from our community. The views reflected in these commentaries are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Jay Larson’s wife was diagnosed with an oligodendroglioma, a rare type of brain tumor. He shares his honest experiences, emotions, and some advice while caring for and loving his spouse.
I have had several defining moments in my life, but one of the greatest has been that of a caregiver to a spouse who has cancer. From the devastating diagnosis, through the seemingly endless treatments, to the monthly scans to see where we stand, we have found ourselves feeling every possible emotion.
The ups and downs are difficult to navigate. Managing your stress and expectations while caring for your loved one is a challenge. I’ve learned that caregivers are not defined by our circumstances, but our response to the challenges and opportunities we face during our labor of love. Our greatest victories and lowest moments happen in the quiet of our minds and away from the public eye.
“Caregiving is complicated and requires so much effort. It’s scary, frustrating, challenging, rewarding, and beautiful. The bad and the good. It’s all the things!”
Very few fully understand what caregivers go through. We are prone to feeling lonely, even when in a crowded room. Our family and friends notice that we have changed. Even though I feel a great sense of pride and self-respect for what I have become, I still face waves of unsuspecting anger at this disease. Despite those emotions, I can tell that my heart has been softened because I can understand others at a level I never had been able to before.
I know how much hurt others in this situation can feel. Hopefully, you can sense the many conflicting feelings that I carry. If you are in the same situation, I hope you feel seen. I care about you and hope you know that someone else out there totally gets it. It’s quite normal to feel this way.
Caregiving is complicated and requires so much effort. It’s scary, frustrating, challenging, rewarding, and beautiful. The bad and the good. It’s all the things! So, my fellow caregivers, when you feel lost, lonely, burned out, or overwhelmed, I hope you can see you’re not defined by your feelings and challenges.
Place one foot in front of the other and carry on. You are valued and should feel proud and confident in your abilities and your character, because both have been tested by life.
“If you are in the same situation, I hope you feel seen. I care about you and hope you know that someone else out there totally gets it.”
Though this journey has been difficult, I would have it no other way. I have learned too much about myself and others to ever turn back. I am grateful to call myself a caregiver, as each and every one of you should be. The pressure we face is a privilege.