Letter from a Caregiver

As life transforms for the cancer patient, life transforms for the caregiver too.

That's why it is vital to find support for them as well. Richard Hayes, CXPA Cancer Foundation founder, was blessed to have caregivers by his side the whole way through. They chose to reach out during the process by blogging. We encourage all caregivers to find support during this journey. You don't have to do it alone.

Below is an excerpt from a caregiver's blog post on Monday, June 7, 2010 during Rich's treatment for carcinoma ex-pleomorphic adenoma cancer:

Here we are finally at the end. It's different then I thought it would be.

The end comes with little comfort or relief and no closure. Only a pause and the knowledge that for the next six to eight weeks we have only two appointments. The end comes with more questions. Did any of this work?

We know that chemo drugs do not work on this type of cancer and that it was used just to break down Rich's body to allow the radiation to work harder. Will anything grow, spread or get worse during these next weeks of no treatment? Is anyone working on a cure for this? We've been told repeatedly "no cure, only remission." Isn't there an exception to every rule? How long will the radiation continue to eat away at Rich after these last treatments? What is the next treatment? Will God chose to override all of the medical and provide a miracle?

So many unanswered questions and no one has anything to offer but a guess. In some ways, the answers don't matter anyway. We will now forever live under the cancer cloud. The lives Rich's sons forever changed, not by the expected erosion of the world slowly creeping in, but the bombardment of an awful disease that threatens to take their father and has stolen some of their childhood. They are firsthand witnesses to chemo, radiation and extreme illness. They have also witnessed a brave father and at times they've whispered their fears for the future.

Over these months nurses have said things like, "In a year this time will be nothing but a bad memory." In my mind, I would like that to be true. There are times you can honestly say to someone, "Wow! I would have never known you went through cancer you look great!" The reality is that even if Rich is cured somehow, he will remain partially paralyzed (left face, neck, shoulder, chest, and bicep) for life. That is heartbreaking! Usually, the nurse who made the statement comes back a short time later and confesses, "I just read your chart, I have never even heard of that type of cancer. Wow. Rare!" Sigh...

We are coming up on three months of living with cancer as our unexpected guest, a guest that fills each room and each thought, casting it's an ugly shadow on even the simplest of tasks and casting doubt and dread on even the most cheerful moments. A guest that comes like the devil to steal and to kill. Yet, knowing all of this and saying this there is still an undying hope that Rich will be the one spared, the first to defy the odds, the one to receive the undeserved miracle from God. There is peace in the knowledge of who God is and his unchanging character that reassures us that this unwanted guest is no mistake and is hereby His plan. This guest is here to make us more like God on the inside even while the outside is destroyed. This guest though appearing as a devil will bring God glory!

Therefore we will continue to host this guest for as long as the Lord sees fit. We will allow God to light the dark corners where this guest has planted fear and pain. We will continue to release our boys to the One who can use a painful, changed childhood to begin to prepare them to be Godly men, for no one stays a child forever. We will try to use every moment to release ourselves to His will and purpose, no matter the ending, for this too will bring God glory and that my friends, is the reason you and I have been created. The chief end of man is to glorify God.

NOTE: Rich remains cancer-free!