How to Care for Marlene
When Marlene was shockingly diagnosed with stage III breast cancer in the Spring of 2016, our loving marriage of nearly 45 years was suddenly faced with the challenges of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Although Marlene was the one who had to endure this difficult and complex treatment process, as her partner and caregiver I wanted to “be there” for her during each treatment step. It was my role to provide support, encouragement and to learn as much about this disease, to be an informed advocate. In this regard I thought I was doing a good job, however, when we found out in December 2018 that Marlene’s breast cancer had become MBC, i.e., metastasized to several spots in her bones, I started to question my limitations as Marlene’s caregiver. From the first diagnosis, Marlene had been fatalistic that her disease would progress, while I tried to convince her that metastases were not inevitable. I realized that in my efforts to be a good caregiver and advocate, I was not connecting with Marlene’s emotions as well as I should have. Now as we deal with MBC it is even more important that Marlene knows that her feelings are understood and that there are people who will listen, care for her and want to help. Sharsheret has been helpful in providing resources for Marlene as well as caregiver assistance, but what has been particularly helpful for Marlene are those emotionally supportive calls from my Sharsheret social worker.
Being Marlene’s key caregiver during this journey, has been at times difficult and frustrating. I am trying to better understand Marlene’s feelings of fear that her disease will progress further with more pain, requiring more potent treatments with possibly more side effects. She knows I love her and will always be there for her, advocating for a best step by step approach forward, staying abreast of the latest treatments. I am hoping Marlene will be motivated by the realization that I need her to be there for me for many more years.