Chances are that you’d find these men at the end of that hallway by that large window. It’s always open – but they don’t seem to mind. They just don’t like being bored. They indulge – in reading, gossip, playing cards and sharing one or two laughs.
These people, however, were not here by choice. They have traveled far from home, having to quit their day jobs, and sell valuable assets just to see their loved ones under medical care. They are the family of childhood cancer sufferers at a hospital. They sit by that window at the end of a hallway day and night – cautiously contemplating some good news on their patients’ prognosis.
This indeed makes for a very ‘blue’ picture, but the fair side of the story is that these parents socialize and share their burden of stress, uncertainty and sorrow with one another. An impromptu support system – or a “caregiver’s club” – if you’d call it. Empathetic strangers sharing the same plight who can acknowledge one another’s plight and offer counsel and support.
“The social impact of cancer and pain can be ameliorated by social…The desire for additional help from family and friends has been identified as an indicator of caregiver burden…” [Surbone A, Baider L, Weitzman TS, et al.: Psychosocial care for patients and their families is integral to supportive care in cancer: MASCC position statement. Support Care Cancer 18 (2): 255-63, 2010].