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Episode 36: Being a Caregiver with Stephanie Saffer

by | Aug 27, 2021 | Podcasts | 0 comments

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Being a caregiver is never an easy job, but especially not under the auspices of a cancer diagnosis. I always say cancer is a team sport. It’s the patient, the medical team, the paraprofessionals (acupuncturist, nutritionist, massage therapist, etc), and definitely not least, the caregiver.

Many times being a caregiver means doing “all the things” behind the scenes. Being the glue that keeps the family together, the one who makes the meals and cleans up afterward, the one who drives to appointments, and picks up medications.

But it’s a thankless job, and it’s hard to see your loved one suffering so much without a way to alleviate that suffering. This is being a caregiver.

No one knows this job better than my guest on this episode of the podcast, Stephanie Saffer. Her partner and cancer survivor, Lianne Saffer, was a guest on my show earlier this year. 

Assuming the role of caregiver.

Stephanie and I talked about how hard it is to be a caregiver. One of the hardest things is that no one is prepared for the role. When we pledge “in sickness and in health” we don’t anticipate that sickness will reach our shores. At least, not as early as it did in their relationship (six months).

And because we never talk about hard things happening in our relationships, we don’t talk about what one would want from the other in case of hardship. We may not even know what we would want ourselves.

“I often felt like I was being blind-sided by a tackle.”

Stephanie Saffer

Caregivers need care too.

Being a caregiver is grossly overlooked. And, caregivers also need care. They are witness to unfathomable suffering and they need to manage and process those big feelings. They need to establish ways to cope with all they are taking in.

That may mean miscommunication that leads to anger or resentment. Stephanie suggests couples learn to communicate and caregivers find coping strategies like seeing a therapist if that is what they need.

“I used to go to my crying spot in my neighborhood because it’s hard to cry in front of the kids and inlaws.”

Stephanie Saffer

Finding your groove.

Stephanie and Lianne were able to find humor in an inside joke that became a common thread for them and joy in little trips they would take to get away from the sickness in the house. They also found joy in beautiful moments provided by people doing special things. And those beautiful moments can be found anywhere, so be on the lookout for them!

Highlights from this episode include:

  • 2:09 How Stephanie met Lianne.
  • 3:17 The beginning of their cancer experience.
  • 7:12 The hardest thing about being a caregiver.
  • 10:37 The balance between prolonging life and quality of life.
  • 12:32 Can it happen to you as a partner?
  • 14:29 Attraction and intimacy during treatment.
  • 17:10 What Stephanie wishes she would’ve had or known before or during the process.
  • 22:00 Caretakers need therapy too.
  • 23:12 Learning to communicate.
  • 25:42 Cancer is a team sport and sometimes caregivers feel like they’re blind-sided.
  • 27:26 Finding humor or joy in the process.
  • 31:15 Cancer changes your body and mind and some people are still dealing with that.
  • 32:54 Tips for caregivers.

A new episode is released every second and fourth Thursday of each month.

Subscribe & Review in iTunes

Not subscribed to the podcast yet? Subscribe today so you don’t miss out on upcoming new content! Trust me, this is stuff you’re not gonna wanna miss! Don’t know how to review a podcast? Check out this article I wrote about rating and reviewing a podcast.

A new episode is released every second and fourth Thursday of each month.

Subscribe & Review in iTunes

Not subscribed to the podcast yet? Subscribe today so you don’t miss out on upcoming new content! Trust me, this is stuff you’re not gonna wanna miss! Don’t know how to review a podcast? Check out this article I wrote about rating and reviewing a podcast.

Episode 36: Being a Caregiver with Stephanie Saffer

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