October 3, 2019

Bowel Cancer NZ

Like waves hitting rocks, bouncing off and then returning once again is how wide the cancer impact feels.

The person living with cancer is hit hardest, smashed by the diagnosis, battered by the treatment, and hit repeatedly emotionally and physically.

Those people that are closest to the rock live in a constant tumultuous water.

The children of the patient being pulled and pushed in an emotional whirlpool, not being able to work out how to make sense of the waves of emotion, needing to be flexible about where they are living, who is looking after them, what is happening and where they fit in, with no clear path to escape the churning waters.

The parents of the patient amongst this confusion, trying to rescue the grandchildren from harm and stop the waves bashing their own child. Feeling every wave almost strongly as the patient.

The wife being bruised by the waves hitting the rock, feeling scared and anxious but keeping hopeful, trying to organise the waves into a more regular pattern, trying to support the patient as well as children and keep everyone above water.

The siblings of the patient, also living amongst the white water, trying to hold all family members clear, worrying about their brother, his wife, and the nephews and logistically having their lives turned upside down by taking on additional responsibilities of care.

The in-laws hit too, trying to throw in their own metaphorical lifelines, looking after daughters, sisters and nephews. Sharing the worry, the grief, the what ifs and fears.

Aunts and Uncles, cousins, wider family members and close friends and work mates always being pulled in and out of the messy water, wanting to help.

The medical teams are also hammered by the waves, working so hard to stop the impact, developing relationships with the patients and their families. The nurses, doctors and other health professionals.

The effect continues further away though, with the waves felt by teachers and coaches of the children whose father has cancer, by the acquaintance who hears the news, by the agencies that support the families, even the barista who makes the regular coffee for the wife of the patient.

Everyone who meets not only the patient but also members of the patients support team, be it his wife or distant family will be affected by the cancer diagnosis, feel the fear and the worry and realise the enormity of the diagnosis.

While the breadth of impact is wide, the breadth of support is as wide and testament to the empathy in human nature that a cancer diagnosis for any person generates care and compassion.