What I heard: “You have cancer.”
I heard it twice…in 1990 and again in 2006.
Each time, these mind-numbing words sent shock waves through my entire being…and yet, they were not said to me. In fact, the person that made the statement wasn’t even looking in my direction.
He was speaking to my wife – both times.
And each time, I panicked. I froze. I was as steady on my feet as a quivering bowl of Jell-o.
What does this mean? What am I supposed to do now? I’m not ready for this! Am I supposed to know how to take care of her? Am I going to have to learn how to give injections, comfort her when she’s on chemo, cater to her every medical, physical and sanitary need – whatever that may be? Can I handle it? How do I clear my head? How can I ever return to normal? What about the kids? What about my job? What about…, the list of “what about’s” seemed endless.
I felt lost, not in control and without anywhere to turn.
While the doctor was focusing on my wife, as he should, I suddenly felt like a spectator. Let’s face it, I was not important to the doctor or nurse. I was healthy. Why should they worry about me? And yet, I was in an emotional abyss. I needed somewhere to turn, someone to take my hand and say, “Don’t worry, I’m going to get you through this.” Instead, I felt abandoned – not exactly what one needs when experiencing an emotional trauma.
I hated that feeling. I never wanted to experience it again – and yet I did.
Why did those hideous emotions come racing back even though I had already been a seasoned family caregiver? Why wasn’t I mentally prepared to undertake the caregiving roll once again?
The reason was simple…Because an oncologist we had recently met just told my wife she would need to have her leg amputated immediately and, even with that being done, she would likely not see the upcoming holiday season, which was only a few months away.
This new form of cancer was more aggressive, much deadlier, and required a very different set of caregiver skill sets that would need to be mastered in short order.
It’s not easy to learn when your mind is saturated with fear.
I hated that feeling. I never wanted to experience it again. What’s more, I never wanted anyone else to go through what I had.
And so, I wrote a book about being a family caregiver. I wanted the world to learn through my experiences. My goal was, and is, to share the most intimate details of my journey, while, at the same time, providing lessons I learned along the way as a self-taught family caregiver.
For the first time ever, I let everyone, including family, friends and a vast population of individuals I’d never met, into my heart, mind, and soul. No punches are pulled, no experiences censored, no emotions hidden. If others are to learn from me, I must be brutally honest with the reader – and I am!
We’re In This Together: A Caregiver’s Story is but one book, but with three clearly defined themes: first and foremost, it is a love story. Second, it’s a tension-filled, fast-paced novel that includes not one, but several life-and-death situations, as seen from a caregiver’s eyes. Lastly, it’s a reference book, with 70 valuable and essential Caregiver Tips, learned firsthand through personal experiences.
We’re In This Together has received positive endorsements and accolades from celebrities, physicians, patients and caregivers worldwide who have noted the book’s far-reaching appeal that goes well beyond the traditional nonfiction literary piece:
“Romantic and real, practical and inspiring, Rob Harris has struck a nerve with his helpful book about the journey he has been on with his wife. Caregiving unlocks the hero inside each of us, if we can just get past the fear. Rob shows us how to do that and reminds us that love really does transcend everything. If you’re on a caregiving mission or if you just need to come face to face with humanity at its best, this book is for you.” Leeza Gibbons, TV host and founder, Leeza’s Place: A Place for Family Caregivers
“My vision is that this book would be a valuable addition to medical school and nursing school curriculum, serving as a trigger to help health professionals, patients and caregivers alike understand what patient-centered care really means.” Michael Fisch, MD, MPH, FACP, FAAHPM, Chair, Department of General Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.
If you would like to read the first few chapters for free, just click this link:
At the very end of the chapters there is a link which will bring you back to my website and allow you to tell me what you think. I’d love to hear from you, and get your thoughts.