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Create Self-Care
By Learning How To Think Like A Soldier

By Joan Fay

(Page 3 of 3)

Family and friends often underestimate the emotional toil that caregiving places on the individual. When a terminal illness is involved, the emotional issues can feel like a continuous crisis. I knew intellectually that my thoughts were the cause of my increased anxiety and sleepless nights, but it wasnít until I began meeting the challenges head-on and began using the support of others that I also began to trust myself and Vick. I made a decision to be less vigilant and to allow Vick to ask for what she needed. Then, I began checking in with myself, asking what I needed in any given moment, and trusting the answer. Sometimes my check-in said that I needed to sit quietly with Vick and read. Other times, it told me I needed to take a walk or write an email to a trusted friend and discuss my fears. This small action of checking-in with myself and honoring the response had the greatest impact on my level of fear and feelings of stress. The more I practiced this little ritual, the more I began to trust myself to survive the diseaseís equivalent of mortar fire.

As I look back on those last six months, changing my perception and learning to think more like a soldier not only helped me improve self-care, it also gave me cherished moments with Vick that I donít think I would have had otherwise.


Joan Fay is a freelance writer and instructional designer who lives and works in Port Angeles, Washington. She specializes in topics on caregiving, relationships and distance education. She can be reached at


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