I have the honor of being married to a librarian. Mention any subject to a librarian and they know where to go to find out about it. It is a real gift most people do not appreciate. If our children express any interest in anything three days later there are books, magazines and websites made available to help them learn more about this new found passion.
Colon cancer would be no different. Research librarians in general, and my wife specifically, are not satisfied with what they find out on Wikipedia. They want real sources. They want reliable sources. They go to The Source.
She came home with information from the American Cancer Society. There were diagrams of colons, definitions, descriptions of treatments, etc. etc. etc. We learned about the sigmoid colon, the transverse colon, the ascending colon and more.
She wanted to know what we were getting in to, or rather, what had gotten in to me.
Some people don’t want to know. The keep their head in the sand and figure it will go away, or someone else will deal with it. They live in denial. Not so for us. We were going to learn and know and be experts on this. When it was time to see the surgeon we were going to know all about what he was explaining to us. When he used the term descending colon we were going to know what that was.
Doctors know a lot more than their patients and some patients are intimidated by this. Not my wife. She would become an expert on the colon, on colon cancer, nutrition, recovery, surgery, treatments; she would know so much she would be able to assist during surgery. Knowledge is power and librarians are some of the most powerful people in the world.
She put together notebooks of information. One notebook contained the information she had gathered. Another notebook was for notes on meetings with doctors. She took copious notes and would ask for clarification if she did not completely understand what the doctor said. How is that spelled, what does that medication do, what are the side effects???
For me, I knew I was not alone. The cancer was in me, it was mine; but I was not going to go through this alone. I had an advocate. I could let go of the worry, the details, the minutiae, and focus on health and positive thoughts. I could run, which helped prepare my body and mind for what was to come. I could keep teaching and contributing.
There is that team building exercise where someone stands and falls backwards while someone else catches them. It is an exercise in trust. That is exactly how I felt. Emotionally I could let go and fall without seeing where I was going. I could trust that my wife was there to catch me, support me and hold me up.
And she did. She was a rock.
I can not stress enough how important the caregiver is to the patient. In many ways it is more difficult for the caregiver than the patient. The patient gets all the attention. Whether you are a patient, caregiver, friend, or neighbor it is helpful to know how to care for the caregiver. Here are a couple of books I recommend – BEFORE someone gets sick.