A CAREGIVER'S GUIDE TO WHAT MATTERS

Excerpts Chapter One

THE OH SHIT MOMENT
(CHAPTER ONE)

The reality is: Life here is finite. For every single one of us. Yet most of us manage to forget that fact or bury it somewhere deep in our psyches and carry on as though we had all the time in the world. We don’t. We are all leaving here at some point. A terminal diagnosis means that the person diagnosed as terminal is most likely leaving sooner rather than later. What that means for the person and for those who care for them is complex.

When Brad phoned his mother with the news that he had just received a diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer, Carla, who lived in another city, immediately got in her car. She was determined to join him for whatever would happen next. On the way, she phoned a longtime friend whose office she would pass.

“I’m on the road. Brad just phoned. It’s Stage 4 cancer,” she said without preamble.

Emily tried to take in what Carla had just said, but it wasn’t making sense. Thirty-something, slim and athletic, Brad had just gotten his dream job, moved to a new city, and started dating a woman he had described as ‘maybe The One.’ His life, after several years of struggling to find his footing, was all falling into place. Of course, Carla had been saying lately that she was worried about him. She had gone to see him several weeks before he moved and taken him out to dinner.

“We had to stop on the way back to his apartment so he could throw up on the side of the road. He didn’t have that much to drink. I think something’s really wrong,” she had told Emily later.
Knowing that Carla was inclined toward fatalism, Emily had pooh-poohed her fears. Brad was young, strong. Modern medicine takes care of these things. Young people get better, live long lives. It couldn’t be something really bad, let alone fatal. It couldn’t. But here it was. Oh Shit!