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4-Step Guide to Taming Your Fears When Illness Hits: A Caregiver’s Perspective (Part I)

By December 4, 2016May 1st, 2020Cancer Patients, Caregivers, People

Four Days and Five Words That Turned My World Upside Down

It was a beautiful day in mid-October and my husband was getting a haircut. His barber, Fast Freddie, said, “Hey man, what’s this lump protruding from your neck?” He admitted to Freddie that he’d never noticed it before. My husband showed me the lump and was convinced that he must’ve pulled a muscle during one of his strenuous weight-lifting workouts. I said, “Let’s make an appointment with the doctor, just to make sure.” With some reluctance, he agreed.

Meanwhile, our son kept ending up in the nurse’s office at school, one day with a headache, another day with a painfully stiff neck and the next day with a low-grade fever. He would feel good, then lousy, and then okay again – all in one day. One morning, he showed me the itchy red rash covering his torso and that was enough to convince me that it was time to visit his doctor. A blood test revealed that our son had Lyme disease.

Now, I’m not a worrying type, but the thoughts that flooded by brain were, “Did we catch the disease in time? Is he going to be okay? What if the antibiotic treatment doesn’t work? How am I going to keep up with my two businesses and clients when he’s home sick from school?” Even though I was concerned, deep down, I knew that we were going to somehow get through it all.

Little did I know that something much bigger was looming over my family and that five little words would change everything.

It’s only four days after my son’s diagnosis of Lyme. I’m sitting in the examination room with my husband while his doctor is using a large needle to extract cells from the protrusion on the left side of his neck. As the doctor was walking out the door to take the samples to the in-house lab, he told us both to relax (yeah right) and that he’d be back “soon” with some results. He returned in only 15 minutes but said he needed another sampling saying, “Just to make sure.” Thirty minutes later, he returned again and said those five little words that knocked the air out of my lungs. Looking into the eyes of my nervous husband, he said, “You have stage-4 cancer.”

Stunned, I stared at the doctor with my mouth hanging open. Even though I couldn’t speak, my brain was screaming, “Wait a minute! What did you just say?! That can’t be possible! My husband is as healthy as an ox! Our son is very sick and you’re saying that my husband is even sicker? This can’t be happening to us!”

Four days and five little words turned my world, as I knew it, completely upside down.

My husband’s cancerous mass was growing bigger every day, so his doctor recommended an immediate plan of action, including daily chemo, radiation and eventually, if the treatment would shrink the mass enough, major surgery.

I didn’t know what to do first. Both of my guys were very sick. Our daughter was away at college, and I was the only non-sick person in the house. Needless to say, I was feeling quite terrified and overwhelmed as I imagined the worst outcomes. The unrelenting thoughts of illness, hospitals, doctors, procedures and treatments were bombarding my brain. Right along with my husband, I too felt anxious and overwhelmed and was having trouble sleeping through the night.

After several days of this initial reaction, I knew that my fears were keeping me from helping my loved ones. I was not at my best and decided to get a handle on my anxieties. Just making this decision began to bring some relief. I knew it was time to follow my own prescription for fear by using a process that I had created for my psychotherapy and coaching clients.

To loving your life,

Stay tuned for Part II in next week’s post where Tamara tells you what happened to her guys, gives the nitty-gritty on fear and shares the Loving Meditations’ F.E.A.R. process. This simple 4-step method got her back to feeling a sense of peace and will do the same for you, too.

Tamara Green, LCSW, co-founder of Loving Meditations is an author, speaker and trainer Elle Magazine dubs as the Soul-centered Psychotherapist and Meditation Practitioner. When her son was diagnosed with Lyme disease and her husband with stage-4 cancer, it was meditation that helped them through their medical ordeal. Together, they have created Loving Meditations, programs that bring calm to patients and caregivers living with cancer and other serious illnesses.

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