Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter One

Chapter One

It’s Okay To Be Afraid

Learning to accept the fear of the unknown and fear of the journey you are on is part of the process of caring for a person with a chronic illness. You also need to learn to embrace the hope for the caregiver that’s available through Jesus Christ.

My Story

My eyes locked on to the bloody spot on the lower left front of my wife Benita’s blouse.

“What’s going on? What’s with the blood?” I asked. My heart was aching. The stain looked terrible, scary. I knew this couldn’t be good.

Benita gazed down toward the damp crimson. Her eyes looked tired, sad. She said, “It’s my mole.”

I recalled the small mole I had first noticed over forty years earlier on our wedding night. I had playfully kidded her about it calling it her beauty mark. I immediately found out that was the wrong thing to do. She was sensitive about the mole.

“Talk to me. What’s going on?” I said. 

She lifted her eyes meeting mine. I could see the tears forming. “I think I must have scratched or irritated it, maybe at work. It started bleeding a couple of weeks ago. It scabbed over a couple of time but each time I thought it was healing I did something to cause the scab to start bleeding again. I thought it would heal. Instead, I think it may be getting infected. It’s getting worse,” she said.

Melanoma Cancer, I thought. “Has the doctor looked at it?”

She shook her head, “Not yet. I didn’t want to mess up our vacation to Colorado and your writer’s conference. Now that we’re back home I guess I need to call her.” She forced a smile then lowered her eyes.

I took her hand, lovingly squeezed it, and hugged her pulling her close. We then walked to the car ending our shopping and drove home in silence. Once home, I led her to the bedroom, closed the door, had her unbutton the blouse, removed a blood-soaked gauze bandage, and looked at the mole. It was oozing blood through a cracked black scab. The mole had grown to about the size of a quarter since I last remembered seeing it.

“Let’s call the dermatologist and get you an appointment. I think that’s Melanoma Cancer. If it is, fast treatment is critical,” I said with a seriousness that scared even me.

The dermatologist did a biopsy during Benita’s visit. The physician had the test expedited. She called the same day with the biopsy’s results. 

“It’s malignant. It is a type of cancer called Melanoma, and stage 3,” said the young dermatologist with a quivering voice. 

The dermatologist obtained for us an appointment with a surgical oncologist. The urgency of the situation was shown by the dermatologist finding us an appointment the next morning. My wife Benita had surgery at the next availability of the operating room. 

The surgery’s findings were terrible. It was Melanoma Cancer. The cancer had spread to the lymph nodes. The surgeon removed thirty-four lymph nodes. The physician told me the five-year survival rate for these findings. 

She told us some treatment options and that when, not if, cancer recurred it would be restaged to Melanoma – Stage 4 and would be terminal. She told us this would kill Benita barring Providential intervention or a medical breakthrough.

I knew Melanoma – Stage 3 was too big for me to handle. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had already moved into a new role as a caregiver. I also understood the future Benita and I had planned together had suddenly changed. It was gone. We faced a different future, one we hadn’t planned for and did not want.

Our hopes and dreams were erased and replaced by feelings of fear and hopelessness. I was overwhelmed just thinking about the day to day struggles of caregiving. I faced the fear of the unknown. 

Questions flooded my mind. How long would my wife live? How would she hold up to facing treatments to extend life? What would be her quality of life? How would we handle the knowledge that death was coming sooner than expected? How would we pay the medical bills? How much help was she going to need from me daily? How could I be strong and help her? How was this going to affect our jobs? I also was concerned for our three grown children and granddaughter. I wondered if I could do this. 

What I needed was hope.

The purpose of this book is to share the hope we have and exercised through Jesus Christ. 

Hope for the Caregiver offers Biblical guidance and support helping the man or woman accepting the role as a caregiver with guidance and encouragement from God’s Word. It will help the caregiver connect with the perfect love which casts out all fear, the love of Jesus Christ.

The day I noticed the bloody spot on her blouse, Benita and I prayed together. We shared saying I love you and claimed, Psalm 56:3 King James Version (KJV), “What time I am afraid I will trust in thee” and 1 Peter 5:7 (KJV) “Cast all your cares on the Lord for He careth for you.”

Benita lived 1001 days from the first surgery. The faith we both had through Jesus Christ allowed us to face each day with hope. Yes, we still were afraid. However, out trust in Jesus Christ leads us through the process with a calmness that could only come from God.

The Bible Says

1 John 4:18 (KJV), “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”

The meaning of the Bible Verse

John says that perfect love produces courage in the face of fears. Why? Perfect love produces the likeness to Christ. 

There is another way in which love produces boldness. It does this by casting out fear. The entrance of perfect love through Jesus Christ is for fear a “cease and desist letter” to quit. 

A person cannot both love and fear the same person or thing at the same time. When perfect love comes in, the darker fear exists. 

When God’s love arrives, it brings hand in hand with itself courage. Boldness is the companion of love, only when love is the perfect love of Jesus Christ. Only professing Christians can experience this perfect love of God, a love that casts out fear. 

As Believers in Jesus Christ, we can face the future, including a future with a chronic illness, and even death with the peace that only comes from Christ’s perfect love.

Are you a Believer in Jesus Christ? If not, see Appendix A for the simple steps of how to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, help me to keep my mind focused on you and your love. Let me receive and experience Your perfect love that casts out fear.
  2. Lord Jesus, remove any fears I may have as I look to the future. Replace my fears with an unwavering trust in You and to know.
  3. May Your Holy Spirit provide and fill me with Your grace to meet the challenges I encounter daily. Give me the right vocal tone and words to say to provide comfort to my loved one.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. List two examples of times you have been afraid for yourself and your loved one since the illness diagnosis. (Psalm 56:3 [KJV] and 1 Peter 5:7). Did you tell God and turn over the fears to Him?
  2. Remember two times you have trusted in God since your loved one was diagnosed with a chronic illness (read Psalm 56:3 and 1 Peter 5:7). Thank God for His faithfulness.
  3. List two cares or concerns you are facing. Cast (or give, turn over) those cares to the Lord remembering that, “He careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). After listing the cares and concerns, turn them over to God, trusting Him with them.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Author: Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler is a full-time writer. He was born in San Antonio, Texas, to a career military father and stay at home mother. He lived in six states and attended eight different schools before graduating high school. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in History with minors in English and Military Science from The University of Texas at Arlington, Master of Arts and Master of Religious Education degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as the Doctor of Education degree. Before writing full-time, he worked as a US Army officer for 10-years, religious educator for 18-years, and as an IT software application engineer for over 20-years. He is a widower. He lives in North Texas with his cat Lacey.