Walking into some else’s shoes
What kind of situations may lead to a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? We all go through difficult situations that will leave a mark, for better or for worse, it change us. Difficult situations are the ones that make us to mature, to change from a childish behavior to an “adult’s behavior”, they make us aware lots of things, they make us responsible. Of course if the situation is too complicated it can lead to post-traumatic stress, but at the end we get over and go on.
This is a very special topic and a very difficult one. Usually we, people, everybody tend to avoid it, but it is also very important to talk about it. This is the kind of things that we should talk about from time to time, to be ready in case we have to face similar situations. It is good to be mentally prepared for everything and to take decisions out of the shock, before the shock.
“What would I do if I was under that situation?”. A very good way to imagine the situations or to know more about it is by listening to people’s experiences. This is an exercise of empathy. Remember “Every person you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about”. For this purpose I want to share this girl’s testimony, because, in my opinion, she talks about it in a very confident and casual way, without acting as hero or martyr, just being realistic. It may be the kind of things that we think, but we don’t talk about.
Many people have asked me how it feels that my sister has cancer and how I have been enduring it. So I will tell you very fast how I am enduring this illness. The truth is that it is very difficult. Right now the situation is a little bit easier, but like some of you may know, my mom also had cancer and when my mom was sick, the truth is that I learned many, many things. I am not only talking about things that helped me to grow up mentally, or to grow up as a person. I learned a lot about medical things. I learned how to do treatments. I learned how to things that doctors, at some point stopped doing, they said “We will not do it anymore. You are in charge of it”. Diana (my sister), and I were in charge of taking care of her. It means injections, medicine, treating wounds, everything.
I think all this process made me a very strong person and sometimes too harsh. When we went to the hospital, for Diana’s checking, it was a very difficult situation because obviously, all those memories came to my mind. I thought we will go through the same situation again, but this time I wouldn’t have Diana to support me. It was only Diana and I. There was nobody else to support me, because it doesn’t matter if we have friends, sadly, under this kind of situation, for a friend it is always easy to say “I will be there for you, no matter what”, but when reality comes, there are just a few people who really stay on your side.
I understand it is scary. I don’t justify they leave but I understand they feel afraid and decide to stay away. When Diana was diagnosed, I knew it was only Diana and I and nobody else. I knew it was the moment to roll up my sleeves.
The whole treatment has been very different to my mom’s treatment. Here, everything is really fast. In Mexico, we have to wait weeks for an appointment, but it doesn’t happen here. Here, you wait like 2 weeks for an appointment. Everything, the hospital, everything, the attention is very, very good, really. All of her processes have been very fast.
There was a moment when I felt very afraid because I didn’t know what will happen. The doctor said to Diana: “You don’t have much time left. We will treat you so you can stay with us for a year or 2, but that’s it. Your cancer is on the last stage and the truth is that there is no cure”.
It was a very difficult moment because, at first, I was thinking about her treatment and how she would go through it, what was she thinking, what she was going through. She apologized to me many times. She told me “sorry” many times.
We talked about it many times. We talked about how it would be if one of us gets cancer. When we talked about it, both of us always said “I won’t have a treatment. I don’t make you go through this. Blahblah”. But when it happened I said: “The very first thing you have to do is to get under a treatment. If they are giving you that option, you have to do it”.
For me, it was even harder, because I knew I was like a burden to her. Mentally, I was a problem to her. Not because she would see as a problem that she had to maintain me or feel worried about me. For her it was a problem that she was causing me a problem. It was very hard because when that kind of things happen, you, as a family member or as the person beside the patient, you have no more option that being optimistic and I am not talking about being all the time like “Yay!!”. It is just about being realistic in a positive way.
My mind was like “What would happen once I am without my sister? Will I be completely alone in the world?”. People came to me and said “Don’t worry. I will be there for you”. I am talking about the few people who knew about it. But inside of me I knew it wasn’t true because if family members, at that moment, were not there when everything happened to my mom, who was family with them, I wasn’t expecting them to be with my sister.
The truth is that I didn’t want to ask for help, I don’t like to ask for help. I did as much as I could for the sake of Diana and her comfort, only with my help… but in my mind everything was happening. I mean, I was thinking about the future “Well, if she leaves me alone, what will I do? Where will I go? What will happen to my life?” I was thinking about all of this.
As soon as the treatment started, I stopped thinking about it because it was a waste of time to think about a future that we didn’t know it would be a reality. So I said “Ok, let’s do this”. And there was a moment when we had the job, Diana’s nurse, when we thought about baking some bread. For some weird reason, for me, baking takes away the… it distracts me. We decided to saturate ourselves in work and things to do so we can avoid thinking about things that didn’t know if they would happen or not.
When Diana was hospitalized, she was for usually 3 or 5 days. I was with her at the hospital. It was a difficult situation; it was more difficult mentally than physically because there would be always somebody who avoids the topic and talks to you like nothing happens (obviously you can’t be 100% yourself because you are going through something very difficult). And also there are people who are all the time looking at you like “Awww Are you ok?”.
It was difficult, but not so difficult as everything we went through with my mom. It was much easier even if it is only Diana and I. I was easier because Diana and I have style of communication that flows very easily. It helped me a lot that we say everything clearly.
When I was alone in the hospital I received messages of support on my social networks and I started crying while reading the comments and I only remember that I cried and cried while messages came out more and more. I said “Wow, how is it possible that all these people, that we haven’t meet, can give us such support that we didn’t receive from other people?”.
For me, this time, Diana’s illness was much more mentally tiring, while my mom’s was a little bit more shocking… but with Diana’s illness it was a little bit more… I felt more afraid because I knew I was alone and I didn’t know if I would be able to do everything she needed well.
Honestly I feel very optimistic about her health. I see how she has been doing all her treatments properly. I try to cheer her up and I am trying to make her notice that… at first, we both thought that she was very weak, because she has always been physically weaker between her, my mom and I. So we thought it would be very difficult for her, but she was been taking it very, very well. She has been very, very strong. I expect this to finish soon so she can live her life. It was something that worried me the most. She used to say “I want to do this, I want to have family, I want to do a thousand things, I want to move somewhere else, blahblah”.
I used to get angry to whoever I was supposed to get angry… I was angry with the doctor, with God, with whomever. But maybe it was just a trial. This is just a trial so she could become stronger and realize how much she is able to do, physically and mentally. That’s how I’ve been able to endure it. For me, it is much better if I dedicate more time to Diana than any other kind of activities. The truth is that I regret nothing about my decisions of being with her.
I just want to thank to all the people who are still beside us and people who have supported us.