Caring for a loved one can be a life changing experience. For some people, there is a new sense of purpose. Priorities are changed, new skills may be learned and personal growth may occur as a result if you embrace it.
A survey by the National Opinion Research Centre found that 83 per cent of carers report positive experiences from caregiving, “including a sense of giving back to someone who has cared for them, the satisfaction of knowing that their loved one is getting excellent care, personal growth and increased meaning and purpose in one’s life.”
According to the American Cancer Society, “you may also learn about inner strengths and abilities that you didn’t even know you had”, and “being good at it can give you a sense of meaning and pride.”
Anna Cosslett who spent a large part of her life as a carer for her son, agrees. She says she has discovered strengths within herself she never knew she had – patience, unconditional love, empathy, a determination to fight for the rights and needs of her son and others – and, finally, humility in the face of impossible demands.
Personally, I don’t think I really knew what love was until I became a carer for my husband. He became my purpose and my priority, and there was nothing that I would not have done to ease his pain and suffering. I learned all I could about his condition and how to manage the side effects, got creative with work-arounds and overcame my fear of blood and needles. I learned to appreciate the little things and small moments of happiness, and not get stressed out over what might be. In short, I developed skills that I never thought I was capable of, and found strengths that I never knew I had.
I took pride in providing him with the best possible care. Whenever a doctor or a nurse asked him if he needed anything, his answer was invariably, “Nothing thank you, I have a wife”, accompanied by a smile. With that, I knew I was doing fine.
While I will always wish that my husband never had cancer, I am glad that I was able to care for him to the best of my ability and have grown as much as I did.
If you think of caregiving as an act of love, good things will come of it.
If you are new to caring or would like assistance, Solaris Cancer Care encourages you to register for its free Carer’s Course on November 21 from 9.45am-4pm in its Sir Charles Gairdner centre.
Catherine has been volunteering with Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre since 2017, and joined Solaris Cancer Care as a blog writer in early August 2020. She lost both her father and her husband to cancer, and the experiences changed her life. Catherine developed a passion for researching all matters relating to cancer during her husband’s fight, and is keen to continue building on her knowledge and using it to help others.