Thursday 21 March 2013

THE CAREGIVER to a cancer patient -

There cannot be a cancer patient without a Caregiver.  In fact, one could argue that for every cancer patient, there are multiple Caregivers and thus, more people caring for cancer patients than there are cancer patients.

Who are these Caregivers?  They are the spouses, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, other family members, friends, co-workers, neighbours and acquaintances of the patient.  Doctors, nurses and therapists too, are Caregivers.  Do you know anyone who is a cancer patient?  Which of the above Caregiver are you?

Some Caregivers choose their role, others have no choice.  Those who live with the cancer patient or those who feel particularly close to the patient, have no choice but to take on a role that can consume their life - pushing all other matters aside. 
Those who are friends, family members or co-workers who do not live with the patient, choose their role.  Some may choose to visit regularly, others might choose to send e-mail or make check in calls.  Some may choose to stay away.

The role of the cancer patient Caregiver, cannot be adequately explored in one post.  We will be delving into this topic both on our social media sites and in our book.

In the meantime, if you are not a cancer patient yourself, take a moment right now and think of those people in your life closest to you.  Close your eyes and see their faces.  Now imagine you become seriously ill with a disease such as cancer.  Is it your expectation that these people, the people closest to you, will be there for you when you need them most? 
Almost every cancer patient will tell you that they were surprised to discover that some people who they thought would be there for them through thick and thin, evaporated from their lives as they dealt with all that cancer throws at them, while some other people, who they hardly knew, or who they felt not particularly close to, actually stepped up and played a meaningful role on their complex cancer journey.

We will share stories of those Caregivers who out of sheer love, poured their energy, their time, their compassion, and set aside the better part of their own lives to care for a treasured one with cancer.   If you do not know someone like that, we will introduce you to some of them and you will then be able to say 'I know the story of a Hero, and I would like to share it with you'.

Thursday 14 March 2013

Cancer Crossing - UPDATE!

We continue to interview and photograph cancer patients/caregivers/survivors and doctors for project 'Cancer Crossing'. 

If you have ever taken a cross country road trip, you know that there are 'Points of Interest' along the way.  The 'Points of Interest' exist to inform you of a notable event that has occurred at that location.  If you take a country like Canada for example, put all the 'Points of Interest' together and look at them as a whole, they will tell you a very comprehensive tale of the history of Canada.

Our 'Cancer Crossing' interviews are much like 'Points of Interest' along a cancer journey.  Each patient/caregiver/survivor and doctor has experienced what we call 'the perspective shift'.  It's that singular moment when your life's path is crossed by cancer, and your outlook on life is suddenly and forever changed. 
The perspective shift appears to be larger with a cancer diagnosis than the perspective shifts that occur with other major life events like job loss and divorce, for example.  Perhaps because cancer has a stigma attached to it - 'no cure'.  Sure, there are cancer survivors who remain cancer free years, or decades after treatment, but even cancer survivors always wonder, 'what if...'

The life lived after a cancer diagnosis, is a life lived differently forever - in a good way.  'Cancer Crossing' tells you how.

There have been many laughs shared and many tears shed so far.  These stories and impressive black and white photographs will begin as an e-book.  Net proceeds will go towards cancer patient support services and production of soft and hard cover copies.  Net proceeds from soft and hard cover book sales will also go to cancer patient support services.   Ultimately, we would like to be able to produce a 'Cancer Crossing' booklet, to be handed to each and every cancer patient upon diagnosis, as a companion for their journey.

The project will have other aspects that we are working on but are not ready to reveal yet.  Stay tuned!

Thursday 7 March 2013


Today we share some of Yousif's story with you.  He suffers side effects from his treatment for leukemia.  Treatment he received in his home country of Iraq, and London, in the U.K.   Chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, left him with no vision in one eye and hearing in only one ear. 

"When in the United Kingdom, my brother, he would play the guitar and we would go to the club every day; and there were a lot of singers in our house, and they would play together. That is what got me through. We would play together and have fun.  I did endure a lot, but every day I would go dancing and listen to music – I kept living and didn’t give up".

There is much evidence to suggest that music and dance have therapeutic effects.  If you observe small children, they will often 'move with the beat'.  How many videos have we all seen of babies and toddlers 'singing and dancing'  when a song that catches their interest comes on?  Clearly there is something within us that responds to music.
Do you ever catch yourself singing in the car?  How many songs are in your music collection?  Think to when you feel sad.  What tune do you search for?  When you feel happy and carefree, which song do you like?  Probably each and every one of us can find a piece of music that will suit any given mood.

Likewise for dance.  Even if you are not a pro, it's hard to resist the 'Chicken Dance', or the 'Macarena' or the infamous 'Loco-Motion'.  Even if you don't get up and participate, bet your toe is tapping!

We may not consciously think of these things, but music and dance can reach deep down within us and  feed the soul.   Perhaps many of us, thinking we are adults and thus must act accordingly, feel silly busting loose to a tune.  However, once you let go of the initial awkwardness you might feel, all that is left is freedom and as you let your body sway to the music, you open yourself up to receive a new energy that is life affirming and refreshing and makes you reach for the 'replay button'.

Yousif found opening himself up to music and dance during his treatment to be life affirming to him.  Yousif is pictured here with his wife Samar.  Doctors told Yousif he would never be able to father children.  Yousif and his wife Samar, are parents to a beautiful young boy, Ali.