Chemotherapy Diary - Cycle #4: Day 4

My REAL job is a full time job that actually requires my full time attention as I maintain the website for a global charity which raises funds and sells products where the proceeds contribute to end global poverty.  Monday's and Friday's are generally my non working days as this tends to be when my mum has her appointment's with her oncologist and her allotted day for chemotherapy.  However, there was a problem at work which required that I jump on a conference call for an hour in the morning.  Across the UK, there are 6.5 million people currently caring for an older relative, dependent with a disability or a seriously ill loved one.  Unpaid carers are saving the UK billions every year with their role that reduces the strain on resources and tax payers money.  Yet carers receive little to no financial or emotional support often isolating themselves from the community and jeopardising career prospects. This is the first time that I've ever worked part time and as mother's feel the stigma of working less hours to care for their children, so do I for caring for my mother.  When my Mother was diagnosed and we discussed her treatment with her oncologist, we were assured that she would not need care but be able to maintain the level of lifestyle she led beforehand albeit a little slower.  And that's true for most cancer patients - MOST of the time.  But this is life and people are different, no case is exactly the same.  No one could have predicted that my mother would be hospitalised for 14 days after her first cycle of chemotherapy.  No one could have predicted she would have a mixed response to chemotherapy and hence her symptoms remain until she have major surgery.  Things happened and we responded to them as best we could.  When she was hospitalised, she was rushed to A&E and I was trying to still work whilst being sat at her bedside.  It was unbearable as I couldn't concentrate and felt very lost and confused about what I was to do.  Instinctively, I knew that this could not carry on and had to have some very honest conversations with my manager.  I walked into the meeting knowing what it was that I needed, was prepared to negotiate and be very open with my manager. Luckily, the organisation I work for strongly believe in looking after their employees and are committed to providing a work-life balance.  So I have now reduced the time that I work by 40%. This also means a 40% reduction in income.  Then when you add in the additional costs that cancer brings such as new wardrobe, a change in dietary habits and driving more than taking public transport, it's fair to say that cancer is expensive!  So why do carers do it?  Love.  Plain and simple. We get by with the means we have and this means that I can have valuable time with my mother that I will cherish.  It means that she does not need to be alone when she is feeling nauseous and scared. It means that when she is too tired to walk up the stairs, she does not have to think about walking into the kitchen and cooking a meal.  A year, 6 months' ago, my career as an IT professional was vitally important to me.  I remember the times that I stayed at the office until 9pm working on the delivery of a project, traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to meet vendors to form good working relationships but if you ask me now, those things have not enriched the quality of my life or brought me joy.  I get joy from walking round the block with my mum when she has been housebound for the last week.  I feel a warm glow in my heart as I cook her a quinoa salad packed full of natural flavours and nutrients.  I would like to see more support for carers, they are a selfless breed that receive very little recognition and are often forgotten.  The carers support those that need assistance but who cares for the carer?

I'm extremely excited to be able to say that I've been nominated and shortlisted for Carer blogger of the year within the Health Unlocked 2017 Health Blogger Awards.  I'd appreciate it if you could vote for my blog here.



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