Patrick Swayze: Another Loss from Cancer
I would be remiss if I let this week pass without saying something about the death of Patrick Swayze. What I admired about my fellow Texan was that he fought the good fight and didn’t seem to let the disease of cancer dominate the time he had left. During his fight to survive, Patrick not only raised awareness about pancreatic cancer, he still continued to work up until his death, shooting his drama series, The Beast, and writing a memoir with his wife, Lisa.
As the nation grieves the loss of this gifted man, my heart goes out to the many individuals dealing with a similar devastating diagnosis. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and according to the American Cancer Society, more than 10,700 kids will be diagnosed with the dreaded disease this year. Those statistics are heart-breaking. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, Kate McRae is a 5-year-old battling brain cancer. While her parents, Holly and Aaron, pray for her recovery, they also journal about the realities of her condition. You can still follow their very powerful updates here.
I’ve always said that when someone gets cancer, the whole family “gets” cancer, because they are impacted with the emotional challenges of the disease. That means the whole family has to actively cope. If you’re going through the devastation of watching someone you love fight cancer, never forget that it’s OK to feel angry or resentful at what has happened. But at the same time you cannot let the emotions consume you.
What’s more, you will most likely need to redefine the relationship with your ailing loved one. You have to come to a new understanding of what is “normal.” Before, you may have gone for walks in the park or had movie nights, whereas now you’re visiting the oncology clinic and sitting in waiting rooms. And as hard as it may be to see your father or daughter in pain, you have to accept that he or she is not invincible. It’s especially tough to watch a parent struggle with a terminal illness, considering that you’re used to seeing him or her in the role of a caretaker. We never know when our time is up, so make sure you say the things that you need to say before your loved one passes. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
No one likes talking about the dreaded C word, but I promise you, you don’t have to feel powerless when confronted with disease. If you have a terminally ill relative, and you aren’t sure what to do, let me hear from you. Or if you want to share your remembrances of the great Patrick Swayze, then do it here. He will be sorely missed.