Chemotherapy Diary - Cycle #4: Day 14

Day 14 of my mum's chemotherapy cycle was my Friday, or the last day of the week for which I would be in the office.  Working a full time job in part time hours, this meant that I had a lot of work to do before I could in all conscious, forget about work and take care of my mum fully, for the rest of the week.  On the days that I'm not working, I don't like to work.  Now that may seem like common sense but in some organisations, there is a culture where employees' are expected to log on and check their emails or be expected to be available/ on call should the need arise.  Just because you're part time, doesn't mean that the whole office is, right!  For this reason, I try not to work on the days that I'm not expected to work.  When my mum was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I was still working full time and trying to juggle being both a carer and the daughter of person who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  It did not work.  I was terrified for my mother and scared for the future and could not concentrate at work.  In turn, I felt guilty for sitting at my desk, not contributing to the company, earning my pay and jeopardising my career.  At the same time, I felt I was wasting my time at work when I could be spending precious time with my mum that I would never get back again.  To be honest, I still do.  I don't think I will look back at my life and think "those 2 hours I spent in a meeting discussing working practices, that was the highlight of my life."  But cancer costs' money.  Macmillan Cancer have done research which show four in five (83%) people are, on average, £570 a month worse off as a result of a cancer diagnosis. This is because income goes down, in my case, I started working part time and expenditure rises at a time when money worries should be the last thing on people’s minds.  These hidden costs include:
  • dietary supplements and vitamins
  • buying organic food
  • pain relief such as epsom salts to bathe my mum's tired and aching feet, a side effect of chemotherapy
  • a new wardrobe as my mum gained a lot of weight as a result of ascites and then subsequently lost a lot of weight
  • waterproof plasters to keep her wound clean as she bathed
  • fragrance free shampoo and soap
  • equipment to monitor her health such as a blodd pressure monitor and thermometer
  • and the list goes on....  
We do not get financial assistance for this additional expenditure but if you were able to make your mother more comfortable, wouldn't you spend that money?  So though I think spending time with my mum increases her wellbeing and speeds up her recovery, I simply cannot afford to not work.  The financial situation related to cancer is very rarely discussed and considered taboo, much like sex and cancer.  I think it's because firstly, as a nation, we don't like to openly broadcast how much we earn and secondly, we don't like to associate cost with life.  That people with cancer should be grateful for life, so money should not even be a worry.  But if anything, money troubles can add to the constant stress that comes with a medical condition.  This is starting to be recognised in small ways though.  Lloyds Bank have set up a cancer support service which looks to address the situation at its core by helping those affected by cancer manage their finances.  This service recognises the impact that a cancer diagnosis can have on everyday life and the need for specialist assistance which has been brought about by raising awareness of the impact of cancer through blogs such as this.  Slowly but surely, through words and voices, society is reacting to the needs of cancer patients.



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