When You’re a Caregiver, It’s Okay to be Afraid
Fear of the unknown and fear of the journey you are beginning is part of the process of learning to care for a person with a chronic or terminal illness. It’s a scary assignment. When you’re a caregiver, it’s okay to be afraid.
A Biblical Alternative
You also need to learn to accept the hope for the caregiver that’s available through Jesus Christ. The hope available through the love of Jesus Christ will help you face and handle the fears you will encounter.
My eyes locked on to the bloody spot on the lower left front of my wife’s blouse.
“What’s going on? What’s with the blood?” I asked. My heart was aching. The half-dollar sized stain looked terrible, scary. I knew this couldn’t be good.
My wife gazed down toward the damp crimson. Her eyes looked tired, sad. She said, “It’s my mold.”
The recalled the small mold I had first noticed over forty years earlier on our wedding night. I had playfully kidded her about it that night calling it her beauty mark. I found out that was the wrong thing to do. She was sensitive about the mold.
“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 bleed. I thought it would heal. Instead, I think it may be getting infected. It’s getting worse,” she said.
Melanoma Cancer, I thought. “Have seen a doctor? 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.” She forced a smile then lowered her eyes.
I took her hand, lovingly squeezed it, and hugged her holding her close. We then walked to the car and drove home in silence. Once at our house, I led her to the bedroom, closed the door, had her unbutton the blouse, removed a blood-soaked gauze bandage, and looked at the mold. 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. I think that’s Melanoma Cancer,” I said with a seriousness that scared even me.
The dermatologist did a biopsy. 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 it’s Melanoma – 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 had surgery within a couple of days.
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 was less than ten percent.
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.
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 realized the future my wife and I had planned together had suddenly changed.
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. Would my wife survive? How long would she live? 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 day jobs? I also was concerned about our three grown children and granddaughter. What I needed was hope.
The purpose of this book is to share the hope I have experienced through Jesus Christ. “Hope for the Caregiver” offers Biblical guidance and support helping the man or woman accepting the role as caregiver. 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, my wife and I prayed together. We shared saying I love you and claimed, Psalm 56:3 (KJV), “What time I am afraid I will trust in thee” and 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your cares on the Lord for He careth for you.”
My wife lived 1001 days from the first surgery. The hope we both had through Jesus Christ allowed us to face each day with confidence. 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.
1 John 4:18 King James Version of the Holy Bible (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.”
What the Verse Means
John says that perfect love produces courage in the day of judgment. It casts out fear.
How does the perfect love of Jesus Christ accomplish casting out fear? Perfect love casts out fear because it produces a likeness to Christ and Jesus Christ is the Judge.
There is another way in which love produces boldness. It does this by its casting out fear. The entrance of perfect love through Jesus Christ is for fear a cease and desist letter. It is an order to quit.
When love arrives, it brings hand in hand with itself courage. Boldness is the companion of love, only when love is perfect. Just professing Christians can experience this perfect love of God, a love that casts out fear. AsBeliever’s in Jesus Christ, we can face the future, including chronic illness, and even death with the peace that only comes from Christ’s perfect love.
If you are not a Christian, accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior is a prerequisite to obtaining God’s peace. The last section of this chapter explains how to become a Christian. You can accept Jesus Christ today. See the end of the article for information on How to Become a Christian.
Pray Using Scripture
- Lord Jesus, thank you that there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.
- Heavenly Father, help me to keep my mind focused on you and your love for me.
- God, help me remove any fears I may have as I look to the future by turning them over to you daily and as new ones occur.
- Provide your grace to meet the challenges I encounter daily. I cannot travel this journey alone but can with you.
- Help me to know without any doubt that as a Believer in Jesus Christ my ultimate future is in Heaven. Help my loved one to trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior if they are not a Christian. Prepare their heart to hear the Gospel and to accept Christ as Savior.
Responding to God’s Hope
- List two examples of times you have been afraid (Psalm 56:3 (KJV) and 1 Peter 5:7).
- Remember two times you have trusted in God since your loved one was diagnosed with a chronic illness (Psalm 56:3 (KJV) and 1 Peter 5:7)
- List two cares or concerns you are facing. Cast (or give) those cares to the Lord remembering that “He careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)).
Photo Source: Pixabay
This article is from the forthcoming book, “Hope for the Caregiver: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional Approach.”