Log in or Register to participate in these discussions

Christmas and Caregiving

Christmas and Caregiving

Posted by Theseamstress on Dec 18, 2018 1:51 pm

My husband has stage 4 colon cancer (well the origin of his cancer is q bit iffy as it seems to react like a form of bile duct cancer as primary) and liver. He is coping really well with chemo and the oncologist seems happy with his progress. The accumulative affects of chemo are rather distressing for him such as tingly fingers, runny nose and spacy feeling. My problem is Christmas. We are a family of creators. Everyone is pretty good at something artistic or creative and I am also a big time food gardener. We decided some years ago to only give 'hand made' items to the family group and gifts only to the grandchildren. My kitchen has been a whirlwind of activities as I made 3 kinds of jam. dried kale to be turned into smoothie powder and wrapped all purchased gifts. I am now suffering from severe tendonitis (tennis elbow) but still have 2 things to make this week. Yesterday Hubbie said he was bored. I have asked him to do some simple things like clean our big country kitchen sink or grind the kale leaves but he seems to have filled his next few days with trips to return a musical instrument he repaired as well as have coffee with the fellow and get his hair cut. Here I am struggling to make Christmas 'as usual' without much help. ( he does his share of housework but when asked to clean the kitchen rather than vacuum the basement he chose vacuum) I know that he should be able to do things that give him pleasure at this time of his life but I am having a hard time letting go of our 'old' life. We both turned 65 this past year and are very active for our age so the thought of downsizing to a condo is a bit depressing. I do much of the gardening (he cuts the lawn) and weeding on our 1/2 acre but now that I have this chronic tennis elbow (can't squeeze the left hand without extreme pain) I have to start letting it go. I have seen for a few years now that he does not willingly help in the yard but always needs to be asked and I have a hard time asking for help. None of our daughters live near us but are a ferry ride away. It's hard for me to reach out to people so I have not made any actual 'friends' in this coastal town we moved to 7 years ago. Lots of acquaitances but no friends to have coffee with. Sometimes I need to vent so happy to have this forum and sorry if I sound like a whiner. I did finally tell my husband I would like to move back to mainland Vancouver. We are there all the time anyways. He has reluctantly agreed. I got that agreement by suggesting we buy a trailer home here so we can come in the summer. It looks like he will be with me for a long time due to his treatment working well but I can't manage this property on my own so he has to think of me too. Cancer affects both partners. Next years Christmas will not be 'hand made' by me anymore. Especially after I realized my tennis elbow flared after last Christmas. Merry Christmas to all, Happy Solstice and whatever holiday you celebrate! Stay strong 

Re: Christmas and Caregiving

Posted by ACH2015 on Dec 18, 2018 7:27 pm


I can completely relate to your current situation, and you are 100% correct when you say "cancer affects both partners".

My wife and I have been dealing with (my) cancer since June of 2016. I have had to come to terms with the changes that have affected my wife and I. I have limitations, and we both have to accept and deal with them Changes to our everyday life occur all throughout our life. Cancer and the fallout can and will accelerate some of those changes.

It sounds like you were the first to notice these changes, and your husband seems to have been less aware. The good news is that you've talked about it, and the changes have been agreed upon.

I am not one that accepts change easily. After going through many treatments and all that goes with them, I have come to terms with many needed changes myself.

I am planning to retire in April 2019 - returning to work is not an option in my profession, and being 58 with physical limitations- its a little late to try a "new start". So I accept that. My wife and I have also discussed downsizing and moving into a less challenging living space. I think its also important to try to spend more time doing things you would like to do. We used to have a farm with horses, then sold the farm, and moved to a rural property with acreage. Currently we live in town. We don't need this large a house, and being practical - if I suffer any further health issues its best to be in a place where we would not have to hire people to look after snow or the grass etc.

Like I said earlier here, change is inevitable, and it happens to us all sooner or later. Acceptance, honest discussions between your partner, and moving forward the best you can is really what works best. Easy to say, but first you have to get there. After over 2.5 years in our situation - I'm now there.

I wish you and your husband all the best in your transition. Enjoy this Christmas and those down the road free of stressing about what you used to, or feel compelled to do. 

Life changes, and so must we. Our challenge is to do so while being at peace with those decisions.

Keep well

ACH2015 - Andy.

Re: Christmas and Caregiving

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Dec 19, 2018 9:47 am

Theseamstress‍ , Thanks for letting us know what’s going on with you.

I agree with Andy — you at least are keeping the lines of communication open.  Continued work in that department will help, and it sounds as though you need to communicate your current physical limitations with your “family at large,” so they know that it’s time for them to accept some new reality about the changes in their family.

I would have to look up what tennis elbow means, but my teachings are that when something is going on in the left side of the body, it represents masculine energy, something coming toward us, or concern about a male influence.

You know “that he should be able to do things that give him pleasure,” and *I* know that this should come without you having to be unduly burdened and that you, too should be able to do things that give YOU pleasure. Yes, I know, that making the Christmas gifts does give you pleasure, but right now, it is stressing you out - emotionally and physically.

What is your husband making for the family for Christmas?

There are so many options for you right now — would a trip to a quilt shop or a quick coffee away from home help you? Perhaps an hour or two of pampering in some other spa-type treatment?

As for your living situation, there are other options than buying a trailer - you could look into a local resort with a view to booking time on the shoulder seasons, plan trips on the Cascade down to Seattle and Portland. To me, having a trailer “ties you down” and I don’t like being “shoehorned” in with others. Having a condo would certainly alleviate your issues about the yard work, but I encourage you to do a lot of research — comparing the cost of condo fees to what it would cost to have someone do your yard work is a good start. Having said that, condo living can give you a lot of peace of mind - you can just close the front door and go, and you’re usually in an urban area, close to theatres and shops.

You’re doing a good job of making sure you involve your husband in day-to-day activities. You’re keeping him from stagnating or sliding into lethargy of one sort or another. I’m sure you’ll make the right choices for the two of you. Let us know how it’s going.

Happy solstice to you! (One more day and the days get longer! YAYY!) and Merry Christmas!


Re: Christmas and Caregiving

Posted by Kims1961 on Dec 19, 2018 11:08 am

Theseamstress‍ ...Thanks for posting and I really like your username - fits in well with your homemade gift themes!

In 2016 BC ( Before Cancer wink), my husband and I sold our "bigger" house and downsized to a "cabin" closer to Algonquin Park.  Both our kids were in university and would not have been able to move home due to our small community and poor employment opportunities.  We had some difficult decisions on what to downsize to but I can honestly say - downsizing has been very freeing!  When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 - it was a relief to not have to worry about maintaining the larger house.  We were going to do some renos in 2017 - but cancer put a hold on that.  I really got the message about what is truly important in life - not about "stuff" that's for sure!  That being said - we did build a big garage for our toys that bring us joy - our canoe/bikes etc.

Sounds like you have a really good plan developing - although there may be times it will be hard to say "goodbye" to some things - moving closer to your daughters or to a condo may be just the perfect situation.  65 is the new 55 - you may meet others in a condo setting that you can do things with - or you will be freed up from the household maintenance to do other things you enjoy - take a course? join a club? or if you miss gardening - there may be community gardens nearby that you can volunteer at?  Who knows what adventures you may havesmiley

Happy holiday celebrations to you too!!  Kim