By Chris MacLellan
Frequently reviewing and maintaining clarity in your
roles becomes crucial so that your judgment and
decision-making skills are based on sound facts instead of
raw emotions. How much can the mind and body take when faced
with so many changes in such a short period? I think that
really depends on the couple’s ability to safely, clearly,
and honestly communicate their wants, needs, and desires as
indicated by the partner’s health needs first and the
personal relationship second.
While I have no doubt that caring for my partner (who has
been diagnosed with esophageal cancer) has strengthened our
relationship, it has changed our relationship at times, too.
I have seen someone who was firmly independent become
dependent in certain areas of life that have been difficult
for him to accept. Stepping outside one’s
comfort zone and asking for assistance with mundane everyday
chores adds stress to both parties. That is
Caregivers often become the voice for the one who is ill.
As caregivers, we have to be mindful that we are in a
supporting role; caregivers are the advocates, not the
“deciders”! In this supporting role, we must remember
that what we want for our loved one may not necessarily be
what the loved one wants. What a slippery slope this
becomes when the person you are caring for is your life
As part of an LGBT intergenerational couple, I have, on
occasion, observed discrimination in our health care system.
Here again, personal political preferences may need to be
deferred in favor of pragmatism because I am in the role of
caregiver. Successfully addressing and focusing solely on
the needs of my partner is paramount. There will be plenty
of time to step up and do what is politically right once I
have insured his proper care.
Life’s journeys do not often drive on smooth roads, but
we can always hope for a gentle wind at our backs.
That gentle wind is always fortified by love, trust, and
commitment. Come to think about it, aren’t all relationships
manifested in this way?
Chris MacLellan is the coordinator of
Senior Services for SunServe Social Services in Fort
Lauderdale, FL. He blogs about his LGBT Caregiving and his
partner's diagnosis with esophageal cancer at