Guest Blog Post: Long Distance Caregivers, You Are Not Alone
Today’s guest blog post comes from Dixie R., who writes about her experience as a caregiver.
I’ll never forget my first Young Adult Caregiver’s Group at CancerCare. I had no idea what to expect, how to act, what to say. I’d never participated in a support group, but sought out the services of CancerCare when I realized that being hundreds of miles away from my Dad, who was battling Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), was weighing so heavy on my mind and heart that the overall distraction from everyday life was becoming too much to handle alone.
At my first meeting, we were encouraged to share as much as we felt comfortable about ourselves and why we were there. I was nervous - I feared that I would be the only one in the room claiming to be a long distance caregiver. The distance between myself and my family during my Dad’s illness was one of the main issues weighing my conscious, and I didn’t feel like I could truly call myself a caregiver. I was concerned that I would feel instantly out of place in a room full of people working full-time to assist in the day-to-day care of their loved ones.
I quickly realized that I couldn’t have been more wrong. A majority of the group’s members were dealing with the same distance difficulties that I was, traveling home as much as we could and keeping in touch with our loved ones by any means necessary, but often dealing with the complex emotions of watching the ones we love battle cancer far from the built-in support structure of our families.
Caregiving long distance never feels like the best-case scenario, but my Dad would have it no other way. He was always insistent that his cancer diagnosis should not disrupt anyone’s life. Up until the very end he would rally against any of us interrupting our day-to-day to assist – that’s just the way he was. He was incredibly strong and self-sufficient and never wanted to be anything other than that.
My CancerCare Caregiver’s Group allowed me to open up about my guilt, my frustration, my sadness and in many cases, my happiness in a way I had never been able to before. They understood the joy of good MRI scans and the heartbreak of an ineffective new treatment in a way that most people in my life could not. I realized through our sessions that I was not alone, that my fears were other’s fears and that most importantly, I was still a caregiver, playing an important role in my Dad’s journey.
I found myself leaving sessions hopeful and revitalized, emotions I hadn’t felt in a long time. I was able to be a better caregiver for my Dad because I was finally taking care of myself - a gift from CancerCare that I will be forever grateful for.
Check out all of CancerCare's current support groups, available over the phone, online or in-person.