Shortly after my first cancer diagnosis, in April 2014 I had a 2-hour surgery (mastectomy and lymph nodes removal). Waking from the surgery I expected to see my husband but instead I got a message from the nurse saying ‘He is not able to come because he can’t leave our 7-year-old home alone’. So still under the influence of the anaesthetic and with a morphine drip in my arm I found myself coordinating / negotiating baby-sitting duties, in order to have someone by my side.
It’s a situation I didn’t want to be in again. Easier said than done….?
Every family is different but, more often than not, it is the woman who become ‘Operations Director’ of the household. Whether working full-time or not. This includes planning the summer holidays in advance, getting the internet or the television fixed, making certain doctors’ appointments are not missed, cooking or organising dinner on time, getting children to go to bed at 8 and not watch television till midnight, making sure that the dirty dishes are not left out for hours and so on. Just guaranteeing that everything is running smoothly.
When you suffer from long-term illness, this can be overwhelming. Both physically and mentally. Trying to keep everything going, but not being able to and therefore seeing things deteriorate can become extremely stressful and disheartening. Which makes your condition even worse 😦
Things must change. The roles must change. I am quite happy to ‘consult’ 🙂 but mentally I am no longer able to carry the responsibilities of the ‘Operations Director’ and physically I am no longer able to carry out the many household tasks.
This is where family and friends can help. Family members of cancer patients often say, ‘I feel helpless, I don’t know what do’. Well, besides emotional support and just being there, this is the best way to give support. It does require a change in the mindset and it is long-term.
In my case, my husband needs to take charge and my children need to be carrying out the many household tasks. To an agreed standard, without fights or causing further distress 🙂