By Lisa Bailey
7. Control what you can
control. Lots of articles about
stress-management advise letting go of control;
however, I have found that being in control of some
areas of my life has greatly reduced my stress.
a. Get help with housework—paid
or unpaid. Help with household chores has
helped to make our home a cleaner refuge for Phil as
he recovers and a sanctuary for me.
b. Get help with yard work—paid
or unpaid. Our backyard is our vacation
destination this year; we eat most meals on the
deck, enjoy the variety of birds that visit our
birdfeeders, play cards, do art work and garden.
Help with yard work makes this vacation destination
c. Prepare meals in
advance and freeze them. I do bulk
cooking and freeze pre-prepared meals
d. Keep bills and
insurance paperwork organized so there are fewer
financial surprises. Make necessary phone
calls to insurance companies, and pay bills, or call
to arrange payments, on time.
e. Plan your work; then
work your plan. Be efficient at your
outside job and in taking care of home stuff.
Don’t let things pile up.
f. Do three things every
evening before you go to bed—laundry,
dishes and take out the garbage. The morning will be
much more of a gift.
8. Let go of what you
cannot control. For me, this means “let go
and let God.” I carry a scripture in my pocket from
Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “For I know the plans I
have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper
you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and
a future.” Cancer is what it is; I cannot
change that, but I can and do trust God for our
Everyone, especially people who are recovering from
illness or injury and their caregiver, needs a comfy
chair—a place to relax and rejuvenate. Make a
comfortable nest for your loved one and for yourself
by adding afghans, pillows, fresh flowers, candles,
books and great music to your comfy chair area. This
is important to do both at your home and at the
hospital should there be an extended stay there.
10. Make comfort food.
Think about what your patient is hungry
for, and then consider the details—digestibility,
comfort, correct textures, temperature and
presentation. A compassionate and informative
book that I found helpful as I prepared food for
Phil following chemotherapy and surgery is Laurel’s
Kitchen Caring: Recipes for Everyday Home
Caregiving, by Laurel Robertson, with Carol Lee
Flinders and Brian Ruppenthal, R.D. Laurel
speaks with such love for both the patient and the
caregiver and her encouraging voice revives my
spirit for caregiving, especially in providing good
nutrition for healing.
11. Enjoy life today.
During my husband’s chemotherapy treatments, our
world becomes pretty small. We find that
watching television is an important diversion, and
we have become fans of shows we probably never would
have discovered without some enforced downtime. We
also play cards and Monopoly, put puzzles together
and rent many movies. I found a new interest
in sewing, knitting and watercolor painting.
Phil, a drummer, has never stopped his daily
drumming practice or working at his business from
home. We try to enjoy simple pleasures
everyday. We remember that Phil is a person
with interests, not just a cancer patient. And
I, too, am a person with interests; not just a
cancer patient’s caregiver.
12. Journal for yourself.
There are so many ways to re-center
yourself, but none works as well as journaling, in
my opinion. Even if you have never kept a
journal, starting one now will help you clarify
feelings, manage the stress and plan the work you
need to do as caregiver.
13. Keep a
vision for the future. None of us
comes here to stay; we know that. But we also
know that we can “grow until we go,” and we should.
One scripture that came right to mind when Phil was
first diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer was
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Proverbs. 29:18 KJV. We make plans for our future.