Recognize the Physical, Emotional Tolls That Cancer Places on Caregivers

Recognize the Physical, Emotional Tolls That Cancer Places on Caregivers
This week, my wife and I had an unusual discussion. We debated which one of us would die first. I believe I'm going to die before my wife. I rely on the following facts to support my belief. My wife and I are two years apart. The fact that I'm older makes it more likely I'll die first. Studies show that in general, women live five to 10 years longer than men. Both of my wife's parents are alive and in their 80s. Last, but not least, my wife is in excellent health, while I'm a cancer survivor. You can't imagine my shock and surprise when she dismissed my reasoning by stating that she believed I'd outlive her. When I asked her how and why she believed she'd die first — in light of her family history, her age, and her current state of good health — she said, "Being your caretaker for so many years took such a heavy toll on me that I believe I'm going to die first." At first, I thought my wife was joking. When I realized she was serious, I wanted to prove her wrong. The first article I found on the topic of caregiver health said this: "Research shows that the stress of caregiving can take a serious toll on the emotional and physical health of caregivers." The next article I read listed 30 activities that caregivers perform as they help care for a cancer patient. Some of those activities are "medication acquisition/dispensing; symptom management; meals and nutritional assistance; supervision of treatments; adherence; errands/bill paying; emotional support; coordinating care; monitoring using electronic devices; and communication with providers." The third article I read challenged my assumption that the partner treated for cancer was under significantly more stress than their healthy partner. This study found "that spouses are as distressed as ca
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