Remembering My Brother

By Matt Simyak, Volunteer

Over the last 3 and a half years my brother, Marc, courageously fought Stage 4 Colon Cancer.  His fight ended on August 11th of this year.  My mother and father have struggled to cope with the loss of their son and I have struggled with the loss of my only sibling and best friend.  He was 41 years old when he passed.

What makes it difficult was the fact that my brother was a happy soul and was loved by everyone who knew him.  He lit up the room with his infectious smile and people would reach out to him because he had a way of uplifting anyone who was feeling down.  My parents and I were all looking for a miracle and I guess the miracle was that we had 3 and a half years with my brother after he was diagnosed with cancer.

It wasn’t until the final month that I realized how strong my brother really was.  In the 3 and half years, he had over 10 surgeries, well over 150 doctor visits, chemo off and on, radiation and his blood drawn more times than I can count.  Yet he never wanted people to pity him or know how much pain he was in.  Throughout the entire period he dealt with cancer, my brother inspired so many by posting updates on his status and he always remained positive despite the news he received.  He tried so hard to be strong so my kids didn’t think their Uncle Marc was not any fun.  In fact, 3 weeks before he passed, he willed himself to go to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon with me and my kids.  He even went on a few water slides because he wanted my kids to remember their Uncle Marc as a fun and loving uncle.

Marc will always be remembered for his smile, personality and the carefree way he took on life.  Though my parents and I struggle with it every day, we know my brother is in a better place, free of pain.  The last week of his life he told us that he will always be with us in some way, shape or form.

I started volunteering at Cancer Support Community Central Ohio because I know what it feels like as a family member of someone consumed by cancer.  I want to continue to spread the word to people that there is a place where you can get support and to meet other people who might be dealing with the same cancer or loss of someone.  I love my brother and always will and my commitment to Cancer Support Community Central Ohio is strong because I want to help people who are dealing with this awful illness.

 

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By Matt Simyak, Volunteer Over the last 3 and a half years my brother, Marc, courageously fought Stage 4 Colon Cancer.  His fight ended on August 11th of this year.  My mother and father have struggled to cope with the loss of their son and I have struggled with the loss of my only sibling… Read more.

24 Tips to Consider as a Caregiver

We know that a cancer diagnosis is difficult on patients, but we also know it is as equally challenging on their caregivers. Cancer Support Community is aware of the toll that cancer takes on everyone who is affected by it, so here is a list of tips from UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center designed to help ease caregiver stress.

  1. Give yourself and your loved one time to adjust to the diagnosis.
  2. A positive attitude is beneficial for you and your loved one.
  3. Giving care to a loved one with cancer requires patience, flexibility, courage and a good sense of humor.
  4. Good communication is essential to learning how to best work with your loved one.
  5. Plan special times together away from the routine of treatment, such as a special evening out for dinner, a movie or play, etc.
  6. Talk about the future. Hope is very important.
  7. Being a caregiver can reveal hidden strengths, and enrich your family life.
  8. As a caregiver, you can choose to take the primary caregiver role or, depending on the level of support from family and friends, divide it between two or more persons.
  9. Being a caregiver can affect you emotionally, physically and financially. For guidance, speak with your cancer center social worker.
  10. To better understand your loved one’s diagnosis, treatment and progress, be an active participant during clinic visits.
  11. Stay organized (e.g., use a journal or notebook during your loved one’s appointments).
  12. Encourage your loved one to engage as much as possible in normal daily activities.
  13. Give yourself permission to feel emotions about your loved one’s situation, and confide in a friend or counselor to provide insight and support.
  14. Set up a list of activities that your family or friends can sign up to do weekly or monthly.
  15. To help reduce your stress, make time for regular exercise, meditation or some other form of relaxation.
  16. If care is long-term, arrange for extended periods of relief (e.g., take a vacation).
  17. Attempt to maintain as much of your routine as possible, but recognize that you may need to alter some of your daily activities if you are the primary caregiver.
  18. Take advantage of caregiver support groups and credible websites for resources and support.
  19. Taking care of YOU is important too. Get adequate rest and nutrition, and take time for personal care.
  20. Select funny movies to watch together. Good humor is healthy for the body and soul.
  21. Allow yourself private time to do nothing, or something important to you.
  22. Spiritual support through prayer or the guidance of a spiritual leader can be good medicine.
  23. Designate a family member or friend who can help field phone calls regarding your loved one’s progress.
  24. If you have children in the home, assign them age appropriate tasks to accommodate the necessary changes in the household routines.
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We know that a cancer diagnosis is difficult on patients, but we also know it is as equally challenging on their caregivers. Cancer Support Community is aware of the toll that cancer takes on everyone who is affected by it, so here is a list of tips from UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center designed to help… Read more.