Courage is an unusual thing. We may find ourselves being able to call it forward more easily to help support those we love than if we were in a similar situation ourselves. During the time of a cancer diagnosis and treatment there may be numerous situations that cause uncertainty and potential pain. As a nurse, I have humbly watched both patients and their loved ones be strong for each other during those times when they needed it most. Changing dressings, suctioning secretions, helping with tube feedings may be a typical situation for healthcare providers, but terrifying for a family member. Yet, these same family members cautiously learn the skills necessary to help their loved one during their cancer experience.
In the same way, I have seen patients be incredibly courageous in what they endure, sometimes more for the sake of their loved ones than for themselves. My father-in-law struggled with a very aggressive form of leukemia. When our family reflects back on the time prior to his death, we now believe some of his choices were made to make an incredibly challenging experience easier on those he loved.
However, courage and strength are not qualities that measure the affection or love we have for those around us. We all have times when we need to either be the source of strength or find a source of strength. I’d love to hear where you personally tap in to strength during those situations: other family members, healthcare professionals, support groups, faith communities, nature and others are all possibilities. Please share with us in the comments.
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