Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work
MAY 01, 2018
Today's entry is truly a gift to us all, a new essay by Susan Gubar from The New York Times. It is about care-giving, specifically about family caregivers, and highlights a wonderful photo project by Bob Carey who wanted make his wife, going through cancer treatment, laugh. I am sure he was successful.
Before I give you the link, I want to add my own praise for people who are excellent, generous, giving, relentless in a good way caregivers. I am not. One of my disappointments in myself is what I poor caretaker I am. If I try to be fair to myself, I have never been truly tested, never had to be a long-term caregiver for someone with a terrible illness. My fear, of course, is that I would be even worse at that. What I know is that I did fine when my daughters were growing up, and needed applesauce or poached eggs on toast of endless stores or back rubs when they were ill. I liked doing that, and it never, blessedly lasted more than a few days. Some years ago, my beloved husband had rotator cuff surgery and had to wear a sling for weeks. This meant that he needed help with some household and personal things and, worse, that he couldn't drive. The chauffeur role became onerous pretty quickly, and I was horrified at my limits. I drove, don't misunderstand, but I didn't like it one bit.
Unlike Mr. Carey who apparently was wonderful. Even if you don't read the essay,do at least look at the photographs. They will make your day.
Imaginative Caregiving for the Cancer Patient
After the drama of diagnosis passes and the preliminary offers of assistance dissipate, a few hardy souls hang in with cancer patients for the long haul. If we are lucky, they tender surprisingly creative acts and gifts.
Imaginative caregiving is welcome because of the debilitation of prolonged treatment but also because of the barrage of clichéd responses patients receive from chance acquaintances. There I am, minding my own business in the drugstore, when someone pops up: “My aunt had your kind of cancer and died in two months.” “You don’t look sick!” “Did you eat red meat?” “The good Lord never gives us more than we can bear.” Those of us with chronic disease learn to block out this type of noise.
Read more and see more delightful pictures: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/well/live/imaginative-caregiving-for-the-cancer-patient.html