Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wednesdays with Liana - New Responsibilities

Not only have things changed in the home with your sick parent, your healthy parent has changed too. The caregiver (someone who takes care of the sick person) has a lot on their mind. If your ill parent can't drive or work, the caregiver has a lot of things that they have to do. It's very stressful. My mommy is a strong woman. She takes care of daddy, takes care of me and Derek, works, drives us places, and still finds time to buy us a candy bar. J

Yet, she is more tired. Whenever she has the chance, she wants to relax. I understand that, but I sometimes want to be with her. How has your caregiver changed? Do you find that he/she is exhausted? Tell me in comments below!!

Signed Liana

Change change change. With change comes more change. As your parent with cancer is able to do less, the parent without cancer must do more. Last week I shared some ways that you can work to help out both parents with the added responsibilities and I hope you were able to use some of those ideas and work to accept some of those changes and find a way to make them work for you.

Now that you’ve thought about ways you can help your parent with more responsibilities, this gives them more time to do things for themselves. Having time to do something for themselves like taking a bath, going for a walk or just spending some time alone is important. Our bodies function similar to our cell phone batteries; if we use our phone texting and talking all day, eventually our battery is going to die and we have to plug it in to recharge. If we run our bodies down both physically and emotionally by working, running errands, doing all of the household chores and being the strong person for the person who is sick and we don’t give ourselves time to recharge, our batteries are going to go dead. Just like taking time to plug in our phones, we’ve got to find time to recharge ourselves. Your parents need time to do this. Sometimes, they may need to do this alone, but other times they would probably enjoy doing it with you.

So, it is important that you recognize your parent needs this time. It would also be helpful to let them know your feelings about it. Let them know you feel like you don’t get to spend as much time with them, but that you also understand they need down time. Then, give them solutions to go along with your concerns. Come up with ways you can be with them while they find time to relax. Set a time each week that you go on a walk together, or plan time to go get your hair or nails done, or if money is tight, plan a spa night at home: surprise your parent and have dinner ready for them and then sit and eat together. Come up with ideas that you know will help your parent to relax and “recharge” that you can do together!

As school is starting for many of you this week, it is important to find time for this because you will now also have more responsibility. Take time to care for yourselves so that you have the energy to give your best at school!!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wednesdays with Liana - Good Change, Bad Change

Hey everyone! Liana here.
When your parent was diagnosed with cancer, a lot of things changed. Your schedule for activities might have changed, your parents’ schedule might’ve changed, but a big change is in the home.

I find that I’m helping a lot more than I used to. Loading the dishwasher, feeding my dogs and doing laundry. Do you feel like you’re doing a lot more chores than usual?
Also, my dad gets tired a lot and takes naps every now and then. I have to be quiet sometimes so I don’t disturb him.

I have an older brother who is in high school. He was always mean to me, like a brother should be. But ever since daddy was diagnosed, he’s been slightly more cruel. If you have a sibling, how do they act? Do you guys get along more? Or just the opposite, like me and my brother? If you don’t a brother or sister, do you sometimes feel alone?
Can’t wait to hear from you!

Signed, Liana

Change is never easy, but change caused by a cancer diagnosis can be especially difficult. These are changes that families are forced to make that you probably have a lot of negative feelings toward. So, trying to have a positive attitude and stepping up to share some of the new responsibilities will make it easier for everyone in your family and maybe make it seem a little less difficult.

So, instead of waiting for mom or dad to tell you to take out the trash or help with the laundry and you possibly arguing with them over it, just go ahead and take out the trash when you see it get full or put it on the curb when you know it’s trash day. Go ahead and load the dishwasher when the sink is full or walk the dog. By you taking initiative and doing extra things around the house, it may make your parents less stressed, which may make the cancer experience a little less difficult.

Your challenge this week is to find one change that you don’t like and then think about something that changed but that you actually like - one positive!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesdays with Liana - Caring Counts!

What's up? It's Liana!

I love to hang out with my friends! My friends have always been there for me, especially when my dad’s tumor grew back. Some of my friends read my daddy's CaringBridge (an online journal of how he's doing). All of them ask me how he's doing. I think it's so sweet! But other than that we don’t really talk about it. When my friends come over to hang out, they don't treat my dad any different than any other human. What about you? Do you and your friends talk about your sick parent at all? How do your friends act around your parent? Answer me in comments below!

Signed Liana

For a lot of teens during junior high or high school is when you start talking to your parents less and less and talking to your friends more about things you maybe used to talk with your parents about. It’s a natural thing and it happens in a lot of families, as we grow and mature our support system changes. You may have that one best friend that you tell everything to or a close group of friends that you share a lot with. But, how do you talk to a friend about something that they may have no clue about…like CANCER?!?

It is often intimidating for you, the person who has a parent with cancer to talk with your friends about it, or it might be hard for them to talk with you about it.

Here are some tips for talking with your friends:

  • Your friends may not know what to say or how to approach the subject, so if you’re comfortable, bring it up with them. You can either tell them it’s ok with you if they ask questions, or let them know that you’re still struggling with it and it’s difficult for you to talk about it. But, that if you want to talk, you will let them know.
  • If your parent has a Caring Bridge page, or another website with information and updates, you can share that with them so they can read and follow how your parent is doing.
  • If you feel as if your friends are more distant and you don’t see them as often, it may be that they feel like they would bother you if they came around or that you’re busy now. Talk with them about this, tell them that you miss spending time together, and that you know things are different with you, but you would still like to hang out and set up time to see them.
  • As long as you are able to communicate how you’re feeling either by talking about it or letting them know that it’s too hard to talk about it right now, they’ll be able to stay in the loop. Just like you want to know how your parent is doing and how they’re feeling, your friends want to know how you are too!

Have a great week!


Monday, August 9, 2010

Things to consider before returning to work

If you are planning to return to work during treatment or immediately after, take a moment to consider how treatment will impacted your ability to perform your job duties. Are you used to working long hours, traveling? Is your position physically demanding or emotionally draining? All these factors coupled with cancer-related fatigue may not allow you to continue at the same pace.

Those who experience “Chemobrain” are often frustrated in their workplace because of difficulty concentrating and producing and retaining information as easily as before their chemotherapy. Also, post-surgery pain may reduce your mobility or prevent you from being able to sit or stand for long periods without breaks.

The best way to cope? Talk to your employer about these possibilities before you return to work. Be realistic by asking for adjustments to help you perform better-at least during the transition phase. These adjustments can include a modified work environment or cutting back on job responsibilities.

You may also request that a manager or peer review your work until you feel comfortable with your ability to produce accurate data. Adopt the habit of writing everything down or use a tape recorder if your employer allows. Finally, find out about other resources available through your human resource department to help you until you are fully able to reintegrate into your past role. What tips and tricks worked for you when you transitioned back into work?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesdays with Liana - Traveling to Treatment

Hey! Liana here.

The hospital my daddy goes to is two hours from where we live. If my parents are away over night, during the school year, my grandparents will stay over. During the summer though, my brother and I stay at their house. Sometimes, I'll sleep over at my friends' house. What about you guys?

When they're away, I actually don’t think about it all that much. I don’t really worry about what they're going to tell me when they get home. I expect bad news so that way I don’t get my hopes up. Plus, if it is bad news, it doesn’t hurt as much.

Do you guys worry when your parent has a "check-up"? Do you ever wish you could be a fly on the wall and know what’s going on? Or, do you go with your parent to their appointments? Tell us in a comment below!

Signed, Liana

One thing that all cancer treatments have in common is doctor’s appointments and many times, LOTS of doctor’s appointments. For some families, the doctor’s office is just down the street, for others it is a few hours and for others it can even be across the country. Regardless of how far your parent travels to see the doctor, those “check-up” appointments are stressful. These appointments are where you hear things like whether the treatment is working or not, what the next phase of treatment is going to be and how it will make you feel or the dreaded, the cancer is back.

Some teens go to these appointments with their parents and others don’t for different reasons. Obviously, cancer doesn’t schedule itself around the school year or other activities and events you have going on.

How does this work in your family? Does it make you feel better if you can go to the doctor with your mom or dad or it is easier for you to not go? What things do you do to make these times less stressful for you? What is communication like between you and your parents after these appointments? Do they tell you everything or do you want to know everything?