What A Difference A Year Makes

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Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. Helen Keller
It was just one year ago that ‘The Little One‘ started his chemo and radiation treatments.  I remember one of my early blog posts during that first week of treatments entitled;  I’m Radioactive!  where ‘The Little One’ said ” I don’t care what you put into my body as long as it is going to help me beat this cancer.”

We learned that the first week of treatments is usually the easiest; we also learned six weeks later just how difficult chemotherapy was for  ‘The Little One.’  What they put in his body was dreadful, yet it helped stop the spread of his cancer cells. Now a year removed from the start of his treatments,  ‘The Little One’ still has his ups and downs, his good days and his bad days; we are enjoying life in the moment!   According to the American Cancer Society “Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they cannot predict what will happen to any particular person.”  (“Survival rates for,” 01).

“The Little One” was fortunate that the cancer was local and had not  metastasized. We live life in the moment, enjoying each day as an extended stay, not worried about tomorrow. Given three to four months  to live, ‘The Little One” has far exceeded anyone’s expectations (except ours!).  In 6 weeks, we will be one year past that diagnosis! He has already beaten the first survival rate indicated by the American Cancer Society which is quite an accomplishment for someone of his age.

Through our Caregiving journey we have  learned the meaning of true friends, and what is important in life.  While each one of us deals with the reality of cancer in a different way, each one of us wants to look on the bright side of life. Yesterday is gone, today is here, not sure about tomorrow. It is our hope that lets us withstand problems; it is our beliefs that let us find solutions.

Phase II of our Caregiving journey starts this September as I will be learning  a new chapter in my life;  How to take care of me!   Sounds selfish, but it is the reality that I must face.  Each one of us deals with stress in different ways.  I dealt with the stress of this past year by over eating and over thinking.  I thought I had it under control, but I was in too much control. In many ways, I am better at taking care of others than taking care of myself.  That is a paradox and may be a bit overstated, but that is my reality at the moment. Thankfully I am in a place to deal with it and fix it.

Caregivers are so focused on taking care of their loved one (caree), that we as caregivers often lose sight of self.  To be a healthy caregiver, we do not have to surrender our individuality, we have to  celebrate it!  

What are the (my)  keys to being a Healthy Caregiver?

  • Health < Healthy Caregiving Starts With You!
  • <  Eat Healthy
  • A Achieve Your Personal Goals
  • L Live, Love and Laugh 
  • < Take Time for Yourself
  • H < Heal Your Soul 
  • < Yearn To Care For Yourself As You Care For Others

Checking in at 250 lbs on September 1, 2012 means that I have gained 25 lbs since arriving in Florida in March and have put on almost half the weight I lost 10 years ago.  There is no blame to go around, just a stark reality of a life lesson learned.  The Helen Keller statement is so true! “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

A lesson learned is just shelf-life if the lesson is not put into practice! 

In order to be a Healthy Caregiver, I have no choice but to take better care of myself.  There is no better way than to own it, realize it and blog about it.  As The Bow Tie Guy transforms into The Healthy Caregiver;  the lesson that  I have learned is that I have to practice what I preach.   As a proponent of a holistic life of body, mind and spirit, I must apply those principles to myself, too…DUH!

What good am I to myself and the one I care for if I allow my  health  to fail?   

I hope you will continue to join us on our new Caregiving journey!


…We might have Cancer; but Cancer does not have US! 

 Survival rates for esophagus cancer. (01, 2012 11). Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/EsophagusCancer/DetailedGuide/esophagus-cancer-survival-rates

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  1. ijwoods on September 2, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    What a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing your experiences. It’s great to hear “the Little One” is beating expectations. I know someone who was told by his doctor he had several months to live because of the cancer he had – and that was several years ago. He’s still around and in great shape! So, who knows? I’m wishing you all the best on this next phase and look forward to hearing about how it goes.

  2. Chris MacLellan "The Bow-Tie-Guy" on September 3, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Thanks, Ira! “The Little One’ has faced his cancer head on; I admire his courage. I admire what you do, too!
    Enjoy your holiday today!

  3. Terre Mirsch on September 3, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Congratulations to both of you on reaching the one year anniversary since cancer entered your lives. Cancer treatments can be quite grueling – for both the person with cancer and for the caregiver. I recall when my father was diagnosed with cancer- the tests and the treatments become all consuming. I am glad to learn that things are going well- it is always wonderful to hear about those who ‘beat the odds’. Many of us are much better at taking care of others than we are of ourselves. You are right to shift your focus. In the event of an airplane flight emergency, we are taught to always put our own oxygen mask on first- before assisting loved ones and others. The same applies to caregiving- care for yourself first so that you can optimally care for those you love.

  4. Chris MacLellan 'Be A Healthy Caregiver' on September 3, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    Hi Terre!

    Thank you for your kind words and support, it is most appreciated.
    Your analogy of the oxygen mask is right on target: WOW! Thank you for your insight and thank you for sharing your wisdom!

    All my best!

  5. blessedbebeth - Middlescapes.com on September 4, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Congratulations to you and “the little one” on having survived the first leg of such a harrowing and courageous journey. You are an inspiration to us all. I am too am learning to reclaim my care of self and looking forward to hearing more about your progress. much love to you both. z

  6. Chris MacLellan 'Be A Healthy Caregiver' on September 4, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Thanks, Beth…we appreciate your kind words and support

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