Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
My father used to send me out to get his medicines for urine issues and other health problems. I thought that these were all normal for his age and didn't give much concern over it.
One fine day (in fact, on this 70th birthday), he got admitted to the hospital as he was not feeling well. There was some problem with his urine, and he himself suggested to get admitted to the hospital. We took him to the hospital, and it turned out that he was a Prostate Cancer patient and needed an operation immediately. After the operation, the doctor took a sample to send it for the Biopsy.
We came back home after the operation, and after a few days, the doctor called me. Somehow, I could not pick up his call, and later in the week, he called me again and asked me to come to the hospital. I asked him whether I can come later to pick up the reports, but he asked me to come as soon as possible. That's how I got to know that my father was diagnosed with advanced-stage Prostate Cancer.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
It has been three years since his Prostate Cancer diagnosis, and he has gone through three major issues during this time. The first issue is the prostate cancer, and there have been no significant issues due to it. But what hurt us was the other two issues. He had to undergo two brain-related surgeries; one for a blood clot and the other for a fall which he had. The saddest part was that in June 2020, immediately after recovering from Covid, he suffered a brain stroke as well and has been bed-ridden since then. These recent months have been the worst in terms of his health.
My father is on medication-based treatment instead of Chemotherapy. Moreover, he is not a very positive minded person and already has several chronic diseases like BP, Thyroid, hearing deficiency, visibility defect in his eyes, etc. It all made us confine the news about cancer from him. He used to think that he has some prostate problems and is treated by a Urologist and not an Oncologist.
I believe that depending on the patient's situation, mental and physical health to absorb it, and strongly fight it out, we can decide if and when the disease can be shared with the patient. I am grateful to the doctors and staff for understanding our concerns and agreeing to cooperate in this manner.
Care for Caregivers
Equally important to the patient's experience is the caregiver experience also. When we say caregiver, we include everyone in the immediate family, whether or not living in the same household. We immediately absorbed and decided to fight it with a positive spirit. We were initially shocked, but once we realized that time was of the essence, we managed everything together as a team.
Being the lead caregiver, I would visit the doctors most of the time to understand more about the medicines. My personal and professional life took a hit, but being strong was the only option I had, and I stuck to it. We were always there for our father and tried our best to provide him with the comfort he needed on his cancer journey.
While patients are the priority, we need to realize that caregivers too need a break. Caregivers should take care not to sacrifice their health since they need to be fit first to take care of them.
You should always do what you love, keeping the patient's health and care in priority. You can try listening to music while being with the patient or taking a short break for yourself while the patient is asleep.
Even though I knew how to take care of me, I couldn't draw a line. My family members were of the belief that when you do your best, something good will come out of it. This kept me going, to such an extent that I sacrificed my own health and did not indulge in anything to de-stress myself.
My family gave me strength throughout this journey. My mother was always there to understand what I was going through and supported me a lot (although she has also suffered a lot, not just because she is the patient's wife but also because she is getting older & prone to diseases). My wife proactively took some of my load related to household chores & made me retain my faith over God. My brother settled in the US sacrificed his other commitments, visited India multiple times, and also kept feeding me about the research & treatment related to Prostate Cancer. My sister (a single mom) and kids also exceeded our expectations from them by managing the tough times pretty well.
Everyone has reaffirmed that we have done so much for our father that God is looking at it and showering his blessings. I believe that if we do good karmas in our life, they do come back in the shape of blessings and support that we receive.
There would be days when you wake up and feel happy that your patient is doing fine, and you can take out some time for yourself. Simultaneously, there would be some days when you would not have slept properly but still first thing next morning will have to attend to the patient. But, always stay positive and with like-minded people. Keep yourself healthy, give back to society, and above all believe in Almighty.