The past few years of my life have been an emotional journey full of ups and downs.
In December of 2017, Todd, my husband of 28 years (at the time) began complaining of pain in his back. This triggered an MRI that revealed cancerous lesions up and down his spine. Soon after, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a currently incurable form of blood cancer. At first, I felt overwhelming sadness, which evolved into a strong fear of losing Todd and being alone. After the initial shock subsided, I went into “warrior mode” and put my emotions aside to focus on finding Todd the best possible cancer care.
Todd used to call me his “caretaker,” or “caregiver,” but I never thought those terms truly captured my role in Todd’s cancer battle. We have since landed on the moniker “care partner,” which is a better term for how we work together to become more educated, empowered advocates for Todd’s care.
Care partners like myself often do not have a choice but to go “all in” during the period just after diagnosis. There wasn’t time to do anything other than focus on Todd, his disease, and where to get treatment–but, at the same time, there was pressure to manage all other aspects of life at work and home, including new responsibilities I took on for Todd.
Thankfully, this was just during the initial adjustment phase, and I emerged with strategies and tips to share with anyone on the same journey:
Today, Todd is in remission, but we understand that myeloma is a long road. We continue to track his status with regular checkups and minimal residual disease (MRD) testing to monitor his remission and any signs of relapse. We are living our lives to the fullest regardless of the cancer. Last year, we both retired to redirect all our time and energy to advocating for blood cancer patients. Our work as coaches and advocates is incredibly fulfilling.
To all the other care partners out there, I want to let you know that your work does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Cancer is a long, grueling journey but it doesn’t rob you of your personal power. By taking care of yourself and advocating for yourself and your loved one, you can take back control of your life.
This article was originally published on adaptivebiotech.com by Diane Kennedy