I’ve been over in Adelaide for almost 2 weeks now, assisting my older siblings with home care to my Dad, who is in the middle of a course of radiotherapy for cancer in his tongue.
I’m a trained nurse, and have had a lot of experience looking after people in all sorts of situations, including cancer, but it’s when cancer is in the family that all my professional expertise is called upon.
Because it isn’t professional knowledge that’s required, even though my family asks for professional advice from me most of the time – it’s personal advice they and I need. Which off course is nothing new, because cancer is an unknown. Every individual course of the disease is different, and most of all, the prognosis can only be guessed at.
So what do you do?
Find the daily routine that helps the patient (my Dad) the best, according to what he wants and needs.
And by the end of the day after – a quick ‘bird bath’, oral hygiene, a swill of oral anaesthetic, 3 feeds through his stomach Peg, skin care around the radiation site, more oral care, more oral anaesthetic – the one thing Dad wants and needs by the end of the day is a game of Scrabble.
And it’s very satisfying for all of us involved – we can forget for just 1 hour what’s happening, and Dad goes to bed relaxed.
When I’m home with my own family, it’s what we do with our kids – ‘quiet time’ before bed. Everything else has been taken care of, tummies are full, jarmies are on, and teeth have been cleaned.
It helps. We give our brains time to clean out the day, and go to bed somewhat relaxed.
In my Dad’s final time, it’s as good as anything any health professional can prescribe.