Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Eleven

As most know who are reading this, I’m writing the first draft of a book with the working title, “Hope for the Caregiver” as a weekly blog post. I’m sharing my experience and lessons learned from my ten-year journey of being the caregiver for my parents and my wife. All three are now deceased. The blog post isn’t the polished, finished product. In fact, I find myself at times struggling for the best way to tell the story. The struggle is why sometimes the voice is a little different when I write a chapter. Here’s this week’s chapter.

Managing Worry

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is managing worry. You’ll be worried about their health and future as well as your ability to care for them.

My Story

I couldn’t help but worry about my wife’s diagnosis with neuroendocrine cancer in December 2013. I also questioned my ability to care for her. Scared describes my feelings along with anger.

Miss Benita (yes, I called her Miss Benita with the Miss in front of her name) had had stomach and bowel issues for several years. The doctors hadn’t been able to determine the cause of her pain. Then in late 2013, they found she had a malrotated intestine. While that’s not good, we at least thought they had found the cause. Yea!

Her gastro endocrinologist recommended one of the best surgeons in the southwestern USA. The surgeon agreed with the diagnosis. A date was scheduled for the surgery. At least she’ll get this fixed and be able to get on with life without pain was my thought.

In the pre-operation tests, all looked okay. The surgeon commented that at least we didn’t have to worry about cancer. CT scans, x-rays, PET Scans, and endoscopy procedures had shown no indicators of cancer.

You guessed it. When the doctor briefs me following the surgery he mentioned a mass he found that hadn’t shown on any of the tests. It grew into the organs in such a way it couldn’t be removed. He had taken a biopsy. With the surgery being a few days before Christmas it would take until the first week of the new year to get the results. It came back positive for neuroendocrine carcinoid.

The surgeon explained neuroendocrine carcinoid as the same type of cancer that had just killed Steve Jobs of Apple Computer.

Fast forward to late spring 2015. Miss Benita was diagnosed with a second cancer, Stage III Melanoma.

I had a pity party for myself. I was worried about how I would be able to handle caring for her as I was told this cancer would kill her. The oncological surgeon was very clear on that point giving her a very low chance to survive more than three years. And if by some miracle of God the Melanoma didn’t kill her, the neuroendocrine carcinoid would.

Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness is managing worry.

I found myself facing worry from two points of view. I was concerned about the health and future of my wife. Worrying about a loved one is a natural response. I also found myself worried about my ability to care for her and pay the medical bills.

I found myself turning to my faith in God and trusting Him to make it through each day. I am a Christian. My Christian faith is foundational for managing the emotional challenges. I find comfort from reading the Holy Bible, applying the Bible verses to daily life, and praying using the Bible verse(s) as my prayer. This same comfort is available to you.

The Bible Says

Matthew 6:34 (KJV), “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

The Meaning of the Bible Verse

What the verse is saying in today’s English is give your entire attention to God. Look for what He is doing in your life today. With the focus in the here and now you avoid becoming worried or worked up over what may or may not happen tomorrow.

There’s a reason why you shouldn’t get worked up. The reason?

God will help you deal with whatever comes your way, no matter how challenging or difficult they trials are.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

I thank you for the promise that you will help me deal with whatever hard things are in my future where I will be as ready as possible when the time comes.

I ask for the grace to handle today.

I trust tomorrow to the Lord.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

Father in Heaven, help me to focus on today. Help me see you and your activity in my life.

Lord Jesus, help me not to get too worried or concerned about what may or may not happen tomorrow.

Almighty Father, teach me how to trust in you and let you take control of my life.

Photo Source:Pixabay


Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Ten

God Has Our Days Numbered

We need to remember God has our days numbered. God is in control. 

My Story

The day I originally wrote today’s thought was on Monday evening June 19, 2017.  It was three days before my father’s ninetieth birthday. My wife, grown children, and I all had a day of vacation scheduled for a big birthday bash for dad on Thursday of that week. Thursday was June 22, 2017. My dad was looking as forward to his ninetieth birthday celebration as we were. 

God had different plans.

That very Monday night around 7:30 PM dad calls me. He said, “Jim, this is your dad. I’ve fallen and can’t get up. Don’t call 911. I need you to come and help me.”

I drove the forty-five miles through Dallas, Texas traffic to his house with all sorts of thoughts racing through my mind. I admit I was weary of caring for him since my mother had passed away in December 2014. My father was becoming more and more high maintenance. He refused to move in with me or my brother. 

I never thought this would be an event that would lead to his death. What I learned when I took him to the hospital was that he had suffered a heart attack. In less than thirty-six hours he passed away. He died on June 21, 2017. It was one day before his ninetieth birthday. I knew he was okay spiritually. He and I had spoken on the subject often. His last words to me were, “I love Jesus.” And I cried and cried.

God’s plans superseded our plans.

The Bible Says

James 4:13-16 (KJV), “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.”

The Meaning of the Bible Verse

Our future is in God’s hands and plans.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, we thank You for every day of life and especially for the opportunity of being the caregiver for our loved one.
  2. We acknowledge God as the giver of life. We acknowledge that God has both our days numbered and the days of the one for whom we are providing caring.
  3. Lord Jesus, we trust You know what is best for our loved one and us. We pray Thy Will Be Done for our (the caregiver and the one receiving care) lives. 

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Have you told God thank you for allowing you the opportunity of being the caregiver? Why not thank Him for allowing you to care for them?
  2. Have you accepted the fact that your mission is to give comfort care for your loved one? Comfort Care refers to the care plan for the patient focused on symptom control, pain relief, and quality of life (this includes spiritual care). Pray that God will help you accept your role in this care plan.
  3. Have you been willing to let go and let God have control of your caregiving and your loved one? Why not pray to acknowledge that God is in control. After all, both your and your loved one’s future is under God’s control.

Photo Source: Pixaby

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Nine

It’s Scary

A typical feeling for one faced with caring for a person with a chronic illness is fear. The unknown and uncertainty of what you will encounter will scare you. It’s scary. If the loved one you are caring for is facing cancer, the very word cancer often has death or at least its possibility confronting us. You wonder how the disease will progress and how your loved one will be impacted. If the one receiving care is recovering from a stroke, you wonder if they will ever be normal again or how you will adjust to caring for them and their new normal. 

My Story

I’ve reflected on one of the last conversations I had with my late wife. Here’s the setting. We had agreed to hospice care. She was mentally back to near normal for a few hours. She and I were alone in the hospital room. She would be transported in a couple of days to inpatient hospice.

Her words that caught me entirely off guard were, “Thank you for caring for me. Thank you for not leaving me when I was diagnosed with cancer and especially as cancer progressed. I was so blessed having God give you to me as my husband. I’ve never doubted your love and never thought you would ever abandon or leave me. Even when you or I messed up over the years of our marriage, you always made the proper adjustments and course corrections, loved me unconditionally keeping the family and me as the priority. I don’t fear death. I know God is with me. I look forward to heaven, Jesus, and seeing family and friends. I love you. Thank you for sharing your life with me. Thank you.”

I then received a hand squeeze from her. I returned the hand squeeze and kissed her forehead.

I told her I had been the one who was lucky and blessed.

The Bible Says

Isaiah 41:10 (KJV), “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

The Meaning Of the Bible Verse

The verse’s meaning is best seen when examined in context with two preceding verses. Isaiah 41:8-10 (KJV), “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham, my friend. Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

The whole passage is one of great tenderness. I am with thee (that is, God is with you). I (God) will strengthen thee (now and in the future). I have strengthened thee (in times past). There is a reminder that God has chosen thee). We see a declaration of past favors as well as prophetic words for future favors since God is unchanging.

Today’s Scripture reminds us that God is with us. We do not face today or tomorrow alone.

Pray Using the Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, we fear not because You are here with us as we care for our loved one. 
  2. We are not heartbroken or dismayed because we know You are our God.
  3. We rejoice and claim Your promises that You will strengthen us.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Are you claiming God’s promises to help you? Have you made od aware of the areas of your needs? Pray and place your cares before God.
  2. Close your eyes and visualize God being in the room with you as you care for your loved one. Thank Him for holding you up with the right hand of His righteousness.
  3. Have you reminded your loved one that God is there with you? Have you prayed with them today acknowledging your trust in God to lead you both through the day? Thank God for being there with you.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Seven

Extending Life

Tafinlar and Mekinist were Miss Benita’s chemotherapy prescription medications. The prescriptions are used for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic Melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations. These were the mutations of Melanoma she had. Sadly, I know more about Melanoma than I ever wanted to know.

Metastatic Melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations were detected by an FDA-approved test as the specific type of Melanoma mutation Miss Benita battled. The Tafinlar and Mekinist were also used because of involvement of the thirty-four lymph nodes, following complete resection. Tafinlar and Mekinist were used as an adjuvant treatment. 

What is an adjuvant treatment?

In Miss Benita’s case, it was using a pharmacological agent that modified the effect of other agents. It changed the immune response by boosting it such as to give a higher amount of antibodies and longer-lasting protection. It was used to enhance the efficacy of the Tafinlar and Mekinist by helping to modify the immune response to particular types of immune system cells. 

My Story

One Monday Benita shared, “Woo Hoo! Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!!! I got word from the oncologist today (Monday) that there was no sign of Melanoma in my CT scan. Thank you all so much for your prayers. That’s the good news of the day. The bad news was my cholesterol is up, and my primary doc said I need to have fish oil and recheck the blood work in a month. So pray I can swallow those giant fish oil pills.”

I recall how Benita was confused when friends and acquaintances responded saying it was great she had been healed. A few commented they were glad she no longer required their prayers. Others mentioned how wonderful she was cured.

She said they don’t understand. I still have Melanoma. All the scan means is at present the Tafinlar and Mekinist have the Melanoma under control. The prescriptions don’t cure cancer. Only God can do that. They just help extend my life. I can’t take the medicines forever. Sure, cancer might go into remission short or long-term but from what the oncologist says unless I have a miracle it will recur within six to nine months once I have completed the chemotherapy treatment using the Tafinlar and Mekinist.

Eight months after completing the Tafinlar and Mekinist treatments she was diagnosed with a recurrence of the Melanoma in a brain tumor. She lived four months and five days after the brain tumor was found. She lived twelve months after completing the Tafinlar and Mekinist treatments.

God is Jehovah Rapha – God our healer of all our diseases. 

No, God did not let us down by not healing Miss Benita’s illness. I believe when she passed away she was instantly in heaven with God. She was cancer and disease free. I know because of her faith in Jesus Christ she believed this too.

The Bible Says

Isaiah 57:18 (KJV), “I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.”

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

I like how Barnes Notes on the Bible explains the passage. 

“I have seen his ways – That is, either his ways of sin, or of repentance most probably it means the former; and the idea is, that God had seen how prone his people were to sin and that he would now interpose and correct their proneness to sin against him, and remove from them the judgments which had been brought upon them in consequence of their crimes.

And will heal him – That is, I will pardon and restore him. Sin, in the Scriptures, is often represented as a disease, and pardon and salvation as a healing of the disease And will heal him – That is, I will pardon and restore him. Sin, in the Scriptures, is often represented as a disease, and pardon and salvation as a healing of the disease.” 

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, thank you for caring enough to see our ways.
  2. Lord Jesus, thank you for the provision of restoration – be it through healing or even better, through salvation.
  3. Let your Spirit teach our spirit how to live to Your honor and glory each day.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Have you ever accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Ultimate healing comes through confession of sin and trusting Jesus as your Savior.
  2. What areas of your life do you find yourself facing struggles? Trust God by asking Him to help you through these issues.
  3. It’s hard when you pray for healing, and a disease isn’t cured. Growing tired and weary as you care for a loved one is normal. Realize you don’t have to do everything in your own strength and power. Ask God to help you. 

Photo Source: Pixabay

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Six

It’s Scary

Facing a chronic illness is a scary daily challenge for the person with the disease as well as the family and the caregiver. Through Jesus Christ, we can be strong and courageous. How can we do this?

We cannot do this by ourselves in our own strength. We are only able to do this in God’s power. We must remember that daily the Lord Jesus, our God, goes with the Christian. We need to remember He goes with us and is with us today.

Today’s Scripture tells us the Lord will not leave or forsake the Believer in Jesus Christ.

My Story

Late in my wife Benita’s battle with cancer, she suffered confusion and disorientation. It was mid-March. Only three months earlier her Melanoma Cancer had spread to the brain. She had been diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of an egg. She had surgery. The tumor was removed. She had completed three weeks of radiation treatment in February. 

Following the treatments, she had a brain scan. No sign of cancer was detected. She and I had talked at length cherishing every moment. We could feel the sands in the hourglass of her life quickly running out. Daily and at times hourly I told her how much I loved her, how blessed I was to have her share life with me. 

We openly discussed how scary cancer was. Benita made me aware of her wish that if cancer recurred in the brain to not let the doctor do another surgery. She did not want to be operated on again. She did not want another brain surgery.

Our faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ was strong. Her Christian faith and trust in God were the strongest I have ever seen. And then the confusion and disorientation hit her like an express train. She did not know who she was, where she was, what date it was, what month it was and could not answer my rudimentary questions. I’m not a medical doctor, but I knew her situation was terrible, very horrible.

With the help of my children, I took Benita to the emergency room of the hospital where she had had the original tumor removed the previous December. I knew from the emergency rooms physicians’ initial responses and reactions this was serious. 

I was awake thirty-nine consecutive hours during this time. The ER doctors deferred talking to me about the details of a recurrence in the area of the original tumor. They left the difficult conversation with me to the brain surgeon. The surgeon was straightforward in his talk with me. The cancer had recurred with a massive blood clot. The operating room was available in fifteen minutes if I gave the okay. They needed an answer now. Time was critical.

I asked a few questions. I was told the surgery would only extend life two months on average. I was reminded of the recovery time for this type of surgery was six to nine months. It was pointed out that due to the location of the tumor that surgery may leave her totally blind, with the possible loss of speech, and unable to care for herself. Then I was told we need a decision. He said if you say no to the surgery, your choice cannot be reversed because of her critical nature. The other option was for her to go on hospice care. If I selected the hospice option, the doctor gave her days to weeks to live. He could not guarantee she would regain consciousness. 

I asked the doctor for ten minutes. I left the room and called two of our children. Our oldest child was with me. I did not ask for their opinion. I told them what was going on and that per their mother’s wishes we would not have surgery. I next called my wife’s sisters and told them the same. I returned to the intensive care unit and informed the doctor. He agreed with our choice. They started her on massive steroids to stop the swelling and on morphine for pain management. 

Within a few hours, she regained consciousness. A few hours later her brain function had returned where she realized where she was, what was going on including understanding she was going to die, Benita thanked me for honoring her wishes.

She was moved from ICU to a room to stabilize her. She then went to an inpatient hospice hospital for a week before being transported by ambulance to our home. Benita’s wish was to go home. Again, I was honoring what she wanted.

I was scared to death wondering how we would manage. Could I get her to and from the bathroom? Then it was could I get her on and off a potty chair? I worried about lifting and turning her in bed. I wondered how I would handle watching her die.

God was faithful.  We had a caring team of hospice nurses, her sisters, our children, and even me that managed to make it through the twenty-three days from when I took her to the emergency room until she passed away with family and friends surrounding her. I was holding her hand, had just kissed her goodbye and told her it was okay to go on to heaven when she took her last breath.

No, it wasn’t easy. Yes, God was there with us each step of the way. He went with us and did not forsake or fail us.

The Bible Says

Deuteronomy 31:6 (KJV), “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

Because Christians have God with them, they should be of good courage. The courage comes from their confident assurance in God. It is this certainty comes to abound as a result of their faith. This sure faith in Christ allows Christians to bravely face each day knowing through Him we shall have the ultimate victory. 

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, please help our family to continue to be strong and courageous in the face of this illness. Help me as the caregiver to continue to trust in You and have faith in You.
  2. Lord, we ask for Your comfort. Help us to not fear or be in dread of the challenges we are living through. Help us to not grow weary. Thank you for letting us know it is the Lord our God who goes with us and that You will not leave us or forsake us.
  3. We pray our family and loved ones would confess faith in Jesus Christ where they too can experience the comfort available to Christians.

Applying The Verse To Receive God’s Hope For The Caregiver

  1. What challenges are you currently facing as a caregiver that has you scared and wondering if you can handle the problem? Have you turned this challenge over to God through prayer? Why not do that right now? 
  2. The verse is not positive thinking. It is not an if you believe it you can achieve approach. Instead, it is asking God to fill you with His Holy Spirit to strengthen you. It is realizing the same God that created the universe, that knit you together in your mother’s womb at conception is there with His angels to lift you up, sustain you, and help meet your every need.
  3. Have you asked God for the needed courage to face today? Whatever the challenge you face as a caregiver, He is big enough to help you through the situation. 

Photo Source: Pixabay

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter Two

Thank you for reading. Here’s the next chapter! Are you coming in new? Start with Chapter One.

Chapter Two

It’s Okay To Cry

Learning to accept tears and crying as normal is part of the process of caring for a person with a chronic illness. When we care about, and for someone, it is normal to shed tears when they hurt, when they face sickness.

It’s okay to cry. The Heavenly Father cares about our tears. In this chapter, we look at what God’s word says about crying.

My Story

The door opened revealing the surgical oncologist in her light green colored scrubs and matching booties. As her eyes scanned the room looking for me, I stood and walked in her direction. There was a deathly serious, all business look on her ashen-face. 

“Dr. Kepler, we just finished your wife Benita’s surgery. She’ll be moving to recovery in the next fifteen to twenty minutes. You can see her then.”

I looked at the young woman’s now pallor face. She displayed tiredness from getting up early and then being in surgery for over three hours. I sensed a fear as she approached me.

She looked down at her feet for a brief moment and took a deep breath.

This can’t be good. Dr. Landry’s having to muster a lot of courage, I thought.

She looked up at me. “Let’s go somewhere private,” she said looking over my shoulder at my anxious family, friends, and coworkers seated behind me.

I nodded.

She leads me to a small private consultation room. She took my hands in hers.

“I’m so sorry,” she began. “It is Melanoma Cancer. The Melanoma has spread into the lymph nodes. I had to remove thirty-four of them.”

My eyes filled with tears instantly. They just as fast were flowing down my cheeks. I tried without success to not sob.

She went on to tell me the five-year survival rate for Melanoma Cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. She expressed concern about the distance from the initial site that the Melanoma had already spread.

“Is the Melanoma Cancer going to kill her?” I asked. I needed to hear her say it.

“Probably. Yes, well, yes it will if Benita’s neuroendocrine carcinoid cancer doesn’t kill her first. Having two types of cancers makes the treatment very difficult. It removes most of the normal treatment options,” said the oncological surgeon.

I briefly thought back to December 2013 when Benita had surgery for a malrotated intestine. The surgeon was surprised when they found a malignant tumor. It had not shown on the CT Scans, MRIs, X-rays or any of the other tests they had performed before the surgery.

“I understand,” I said. Tears were now streaming down my face. 

But I didn’t understand. Why my wife?

“Are you going to be okay, Dr. Kepler? Do you want me to get someone to be with you? I could ask a family member or maybe someone from the chaplain’s office to be with you.”

I just looked at her and started crying uncontrollably for a couple of minutes. She hugged me until I quit sobbing.

“Thank you for everything,” I choked out. I thought about how hard it had to be for Dr. Landry to share this news with me. She was the same age as my oldest son. 

Yes, delivering bad news is hard. Receiving the life-altering message is harder.

“We’ll talk when I check on your wife in a few hours,” she said. The color was returning to her face now that she had transferred the information to me.

I nodded. I knew I needed to tell the family and friends in the waiting rooms, start calling people and get the prayer warriors praying. 

The oncological surgeon nodded, turned and left the room.

I moved slowly from the consultation back toward my entourage. With each step closer to the group I teared up more. Through teary eyes, I told the family and friends present but somehow kept my emotions under control. As I called my wife’s sisters, I became choked up and started crying.

A friend I had grown-up mentioned that God collects our tears in a bottle (Psalms 56:8-9) and that since God collects the tears, they must be important. 

“Crying must be okay if God collects our tears,” he said. He gave me that much-needed reminder that God cares for us.

As an ordained minister and ordained deacon, I had visited hospitals hundreds of times over the previous thirty-five years as I provided pastoral care to church members, their family, and friends. While many people were uncomfortable in a hospital setting, I wasn’t. I had held their hands, prayed with them, watched them cry when the physician would deliver bad news or when their loved one passed into eternity. During all these visits I never once wept.

When the patient was my wife, I cried in public and bawled in private. 

I want you to know it is okay for you to cry.

The Bible Says

Psalm 56:8-9 (KJV), “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.”

The Meaning Of The Bible Verse

Why would one keep tears in a bottle? The idea behind the keeping of “tears in a bottle” is a remembrance. King David, the writer of these verses, is expressing a deep trust in God. He knows that God will remember his sorrow. He knows God will remember his tears. He also is sure the God will not forget about him. David is confident that God is on his side. As Believers in Jesus Christ, we have that same confidence.

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, thank you for tears. We acknowledge that our tears help us identify and deal with our feelings. 
  2. Lord Jesus, thank you for letting us know crying is okay by collecting our tears in a bottle. We admit we don’t understand how this is done.
  3. We confess that it is comforting to know that our tears are noticed by God, that He keeps track of our tears and is here with us when we are crying as He collects the tears.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. Are you holding your emotions in check or are you letting go and trusting in God to comfort you? Remember a time when you felt overwhelmed with the news of your loved one’s chronic illness. Did you suppress your emotions or did you allow yourself to cry and tell God how you were feeling? Explain. 
  2. Have you given your loved one permission to cry? Sometimes the mere ministry of your presence and telling them it is okay to cry will provide a needed release for them and you. Say out loud, “[Enter loved one’s name], I just want you to know, it is okay to cry. Sometimes I weep and let the tears flow too.” 
  3. List two times you have been in sorrow concerning your loved one’s illness. Have you cried out to God with your concerns? Read  2 Samuel 22:7. The verse is a reminder that when we cry out to God in our distress, our cries are heard by the Lord. The passage tells us our cries “enter His ears.” 

Hope for the Caregiver – Chapter One

Chapter One

It’s Okay To Be Afraid

Learning to accept the fear of the unknown and fear of the journey you are on is part of the process of caring for a person with a chronic illness. You also need to learn to embrace the hope for the caregiver that’s available through Jesus Christ.

My Story

My eyes locked on to the bloody spot on the lower left front of my wife Benita’s blouse.

“What’s going on? What’s with the blood?” I asked. My heart was aching. The stain looked terrible, scary. I knew this couldn’t be good.

Benita gazed down toward the damp crimson. Her eyes looked tired, sad. She said, “It’s my mole.”

I recalled the small mole I had first noticed over forty years earlier on our wedding night. I had playfully kidded her about it calling it her beauty mark. I immediately found out that was the wrong thing to do. She was sensitive about the mole.

“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 start bleeding again. I thought it would heal. Instead, I think it may be getting infected. It’s getting worse,” she said.

Melanoma Cancer, I thought. “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. Now that we’re back home I guess I need to call her.” She forced a smile then lowered her eyes.

I took her hand, lovingly squeezed it, and hugged her pulling her close. We then walked to the car ending our shopping and drove home in silence. Once home, I led her to the bedroom, closed the door, had her unbutton the blouse, removed a blood-soaked gauze bandage, and looked at the mole. 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 and get you an appointment. I think that’s Melanoma Cancer. If it is, fast treatment is critical,” I said with a seriousness that scared even me.

The dermatologist did a biopsy during Benita’s visit. 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 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 Benita had surgery at the next availability of the operating room. 

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. 

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. She told us this would kill Benita barring Providential intervention or a medical breakthrough.

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 understood the future Benita and I had planned together had suddenly changed. It was gone. We faced a different future, one we hadn’t planned for and did not want.

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. How long would my wife live? How would she hold up to facing treatments to extend life? What would be her quality of life? How would we handle the knowledge that death was coming sooner than expected? 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 jobs? I also was concerned for our three grown children and granddaughter. I wondered if I could do this. 

What I needed was hope.

The purpose of this book is to share the hope we have and exercised through Jesus Christ. 

Hope for the Caregiver offers Biblical guidance and support helping the man or woman accepting the role as a caregiver with guidance and encouragement from God’s Word. 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, Benita and I prayed together. We shared saying I love you and claimed, Psalm 56:3 King James Version (KJV), “What time I am afraid I will trust in thee” and 1 Peter 5:7 (KJV) “Cast all your cares on the Lord for He careth for you.”

Benita lived 1001 days from the first surgery. The faith we both had through Jesus Christ allowed us to face each day with hope. 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.

The Bible Says

1 John 4:18 (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.”

The meaning of the Bible Verse

John says that perfect love produces courage in the face of fears. Why? Perfect love produces the likeness to Christ. 

There is another way in which love produces boldness. It does this by casting out fear. The entrance of perfect love through Jesus Christ is for fear a “cease and desist letter” to quit. 

A person cannot both love and fear the same person or thing at the same time. When perfect love comes in, the darker fear exists. 

When God’s love arrives, it brings hand in hand with itself courage. Boldness is the companion of love, only when love is the perfect love of Jesus Christ. Only professing Christians can experience this perfect love of God, a love that casts out fear. 

As Believers in Jesus Christ, we can face the future, including a future with a chronic illness, and even death with the peace that only comes from Christ’s perfect love.

Are you a Believer in Jesus Christ? If not, see Appendix A for the simple steps of how to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Pray Using The Bible Verse

  1. Heavenly Father, help me to keep my mind focused on you and your love. Let me receive and experience Your perfect love that casts out fear.
  2. Lord Jesus, remove any fears I may have as I look to the future. Replace my fears with an unwavering trust in You and to know.
  3. May Your Holy Spirit provide and fill me with Your grace to meet the challenges I encounter daily. Give me the right vocal tone and words to say to provide comfort to my loved one.

Applying the Verse to Receive God’s Hope for the Caregiver

  1. List two examples of times you have been afraid for yourself and your loved one since the illness diagnosis. (Psalm 56:3 [KJV] and 1 Peter 5:7). Did you tell God and turn over the fears to Him?
  2. Remember two times you have trusted in God since your loved one was diagnosed with a chronic illness (read Psalm 56:3 and 1 Peter 5:7). Thank God for His faithfulness.
  3. List two cares or concerns you are facing. Cast (or give, turn over) those cares to the Lord remembering that, “He careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). After listing the cares and concerns, turn them over to God, trusting Him with them.

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