When I had cancer I knew what I felt. A little too well. I know the pain of chemo. The pain of radiation. And the mental toll that it takes on a person on a daily, if not hourly basis.
Since I had cancer I know the stress of a check up. The thought that things might go back to what happened before. All the things I have worked towards may be going to be taken away again.
What I don't know, or even can be close to understanding is the sacrifices and the toll it took on the people around me. This could be anybody. A friend, a family member, a co-worker, a doctor or nurse that took care of me. I think about this a lot these days.
It is very easy, when I was sick to put my pain first. I couldn't do anything else. I was so sick that I just didn't have the energy or the mental clarity to take care of myself, let alone help anyone with anything. Many days if I got as far as walking a block or two it was a huge success. I was living every moment of every day in intense physical and mental pain. I know what that pain is.
I don't understand how nurses and doctors can separate themselves from their work and the pain that must bring sometimes. I have trouble leaving my work at work some days, and no one is close to being dead there on any given day. I can't even begin to imagine going in and knowing you were going to have to deliver bad news to someone...every single day.
It wasn't until afterwards that I really was capable of seeing what the pain was of the people who took care of me. I knew that they were missing out on things, having to take care of me all the time, putting my needs first, and basically having a 26 year old child to take care of. They had to miss things with their lives. Things that were important. While so many others were out doing fun things, they went to work, surely stressed about what they had to do when the got home, and all the appointments they have to sit through. And for people who physically couldn't be there, I don't know what it was like to be waiting for a phone call. Sometimes with me on the other end telling them what was going on, and sometimes not me because I was too weak or too sick to be able to talk on the phone.
I know these pains still exist in many of my relationships. Some people are more open about talking. Some are not. I wish I could wave a magic wand a lot of the time and just get rid of it all, or maybe more realistically, say something inspiring to see if that gets rid of it, but I can't or I haven't found the words at least.
I know the pain is there and there is little I can do about it. It is hard. But at least I will always make myself available. The sacrifices of caregivers, the ones who stay by our sides during cancer, and put them selves second for everything, should never be over looked. I may not understand their pain, but I sure do appreciate them.