By Lois A. Troutman
The title of this article exemplifies a motto I adopted early on in my
life as a caregiver. Caregiver is a word that I never expected would
be in my job description when I got married to Kenneth E. Troutman on
March 22, 1975. But, years later it became an all-consuming part of my
On December 27, 1990, we discovered that my husband
had developed prostate cancer. Cancer is a word that can send
shock-waves through oneís very being. It can be a stunning diagnosis
and one that takes a lot of time to get used to hearing. Itís even
difficult saying the word. I know it hit me with the force of a tornado
and so many questions began to circulate through my mind. Those
questions had no answers in the beginning. Actually, as time wore on
there were only more questions with very few answers.
I immediately knew that I had to adopt an attitude
adjustment and vowed to do everything humanly possible to help my
husband through this ordeal. My feeling was that I had to assume
responsibility and somehow get through whatever came our way in order to
be able to best take care of Ken.
The early years actually went very smoothly and our
lives were not disrupted very much at all. But, cancer is like a
family member who comes to visit and becomes a permanent guest, a very
unwelcome guest at that.
I actually felt like I was going into this great
abyss where there was so much uncertainty and fear. Yes, the kind of
fear that just rocks one to the core. But, at the same time I was
determined to just do it and get through it.
My journey began with a visit with Ken to his
oncologist on January 7, 1991. My emotions were ďall over the placeĒ.
It turned out Kenís cancer had already spread to the bone, so surgery
would have been a moot point. He started out with a monthly hormone
shot and regular examinations, so it seemed like we were off the hook at
this point, but that was not a harbinger of things to come down the road
of our journey.
In September of 1997, I believe we began the start
of the end. Ken became ill with what we thought was a case of the flu,
but that certainly was not what it turned out to be. Finally, on
October 21 we sought medical intervention at the hospital. He was
hospitalized for eight days fighting for his life from uremic
poisoning. He did eventually rally from this, but this was only the
beginning of more setbacks to follow.
The hospital at this point became a second home for
us. There were more hospital stays, more medications, more tests. The
day that I feared the worst came and that was to enter the infusion room
to begin protocols such as chemotherapy that were supposed to help Ken.
It turns out that when one became ineffective, another type was
implemented. It was, also very apparent to me that all of these
treatments were meant to extend Kenís life, not necessarily to make the
quality of his life better because it certainly did not.