“It was difficult for both of us, I mean you know you don’t want to have to see your wife go through chemo,” Craig Bock said while speaking of his wife’s cancer treatment.
Nearly 1 in 3 people in the United States will have cancer during their lifetimes, according to the American Cancer Society. For Amanda Bock, a mother of three young girls who recently built a house with her husband in California, Missouri, that was in September of last year when she was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer at age 37.
“I think when you’re first diagnosed you know you go in and you think, ‘I’m going to be fine, everything’s fine,’” Amanda said. “So I went in for a biopsy. I remember I was actually at work when I got the call, and you’re still shocked because you just don’t expect it to come back as positive. So when I found out, I was just kind of devastated and you just instantly think, ‘What am I going to do?’”
Like Amanda and many others who are diagnosed with cancer, she had support from her family, friends, community and her doctors that helped her through her treatments.
“We were actually really fortunate that the community as a whole … the support that we received was absolutely tremendous,” Amanda said. “From family and friends and old employers that I’ve had and old coworkers that I’ve had, his coworkers – just that as a whole just coming together across the entire state – we’re just so fortunate to have that support group through that and people that would continually message and ask what we needed and for a very long time after.”
Some people receive a lot of support from loved ones, friends or caregivers. Others go through the cancer journey with little or no help. In either case, you’ll have times when you need some extra support, LIVESTRONG explains on their website.
“You got to have that support,” said Dianna Schubert, who received a great amount of support from her family when she was diagnosed with cancer several years ago. Dianna attended a support group at JCMG with her family in July when she mentioned there weren’t as many resources like the group to offer back then.
“Treatments were also a lot different back then too,” she added.
With dedication from doctors and cancer groups over the years, there are more resources for patients such as online websites, support groups with open discussions and guest speakers, and even children’s books to help them better understand cancer and its effects.
“We did actually get a couple of books that were kind of kid friendly to explain what’s going to be the process, what’s going to happen as far as when she (Amanda) starts chemo or maybe radiation,” Craig said. “So Goldschmidt (Cancer Center through Capital Region Medical Center) actually provides those for you,” Amanda added.
“You know all that stuff that you don’t think about, they provide those so we went through the books with them and that sort of thing, and I actually did a little bit of research online to see ways that you can help your kids. One of the suggestions was to when you start losing your hair to actually have them help cut it off, which is what we did. We had a little hair cutting off party.”
And more resources also provide more help to caretakers as well.
Giving care and support during this time can be a challenge and many caregivers put their own needs and feelings aside to focus on the person with cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. This can be hard to maintain for a long time, and it’s not good for your health. The stress can have both physical and psychological effects. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others, the institute said.
“It’s important to speak up to anyone or to the doctors,” said Sylvia Sabala, a registered nurse at JCMG Oncology who has helped lead JCMG monthly support group for patients, survivors and their families. “It is not unusual for caregivers or spouses to worry about how to properly support their loved one and there is lots of help in the community and we can point them in the right direction if we cannot help.”
“Treatment changed my husband so much and I thought ‘I don’t know if I can handle this, I’m going to have to be strong,’” said Marian Forck, who has been the caretaker for her husband, Bernie, since he has battled kidney complications and was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016 at JCMG. “I talked to Dr. Haddadin several times about my feelings and how it’s changed my husband. … One day I called him and said, ‘His mood changes so fast and I really don’t know how to deal with that,’ and he said, ‘Well you just have to be patient and to think about all that he’s went through’ and I said OK. So I pray a lot, I read a lot and when it’s really bad I just talk to God and I think every caregiver has to have faith because when things are bad you can talk back and forth to God about it and it just helps you so much.”
Whatever a caregiver’s roles are now, it’s very common to feel confused and stressed. The National Cancer Institute suggests to try to share those feelings with others or join a support group if possible.
“It helps them (the patients) to see what other family members go through, the same hurdles and ups and downs,” Sylvia Sabala said about support groups.
This year Marian got really involved with Relay for Life.
“I’ve done Relay for Life, oh gosh I would say 30 years ago and you know I didn’t pay much attention to it, but I reached out and I raised $550 and I was on the JCMG and St. Mary’s team. They have a group together, and somebody said ‘Oh Marian you raised so much money, you’ve done so good.’ … My goal for next year is $1,000. I said, ‘You know what I’m going to do, when I do my Christmas cards this year, I’m going to put a note in every one of my Christmas cards asking them for a donation because I want them to find a cure for cancer,’” she said, sharing that Bernie was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year. “I don’t want someone to have to go through what I’ve went through. I wouldn’t wish all that on anybody, but I think in time they will find a cure.”
For patients and caregivers, it’s always important to contact a doctor with any questions or concerns. Doctors or nurses will know the best resources their center or other centers offer. Here are some online resources and local resources your doctors may mention:
oncochat.org.ourssite.com, a peer support group for cancer patients who share similar experiences Cancer.Net, Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
www2.mdanderson.org/cancerwise, From the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
www.cancer.gov, The NCI is a part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH)
www.nccn.org, An alliance of 21 of the country’s leading cancer centers
www.cancer.org, American Cancer Society homepage
Local Support Groups
• JCMG Cancer Support Group: held on the last Friday of every month, 1241 West Stadium Blvd. Jefferson City, MO 65109, 573-556-7718
• Sam B. Cook Healthplex Capitol Region Medical Center Encouragement Through Caring: Breast cancer support group, second Thursday of each month, Goldschmidt Cancer Center, Capital Region Southwest Campus, 573-632-4806