Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Caregivers" Defined by David Foster

My post today has been sent to me by one of my very dear friends Mary, who is caregiver to her husband.

The following is a blog written by our Warrior David Foster who succumbed to RCC in April 2008. He fought a true fight and was indeed a true "Warrior" and a masterful writer. For those of us who walked with David through his journey, we were heart broken with the news of his passing. He wrote this blog for all the "caregivers" out there and what a tribute it is. David was a blessing in our lives and we miss him so.
If you want to read about David’s journey with RCC you can still access his website:

Here is his tribute to Caregivers:

May the Queen Bless Our Knights

I know. That's a strange sounding headline, since most of us, at least in the U.S., are not much into what the Queen blesses. But the idea of the Queen helps better develop the thesis for this post. And that is the value of our Knights as we fight our way toward a cancer-free life. That is not to say there is anything wrong with the word "caregiver." It is a marvelous word for many of the roles a Knight must play, but as an action concept it seems to lack something, as if a half or a third or whatever is left out, undefined, lacking a true understanding of the strength and commitment and intelligence total care giving requires. But the idea of caregiver as Knight? I like that. It seems so much more defining. And it fits.

When I was 20 or so, I went to the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan. My breath was taken away by the display of mounted knights in the armory gallery. Their armor gleamed in the yellowish-white light. Their war horses, though not alive, seemed at the attack under their own great armors. The Knight's long lances thrust out menacingly putting any enemy on call, from the bad guy down the road to the dragon in the forest. And, as we cancer Warriors know, "fire-breathing dragons" are no myth when they are growing inside you. It was (and is) a powerful display of the Medieval idea of power and honor.

The Knight of the Late Medieval years was always a man. That was a ceremonial designation and but with the designation went great responsibilities. Further, service was mandatory, yet to be taken with honor and dignity...not to mention resolve.

Shift the idea of Knight as a masculine term--and only shift it a bit--and suddenly you have a member of our caregiver cadre, whether male or female. To me, this seems especially true for sneaky cancers like RCC. Once it metastasizes, there is seldom just one call for action for our Knights; it can become as much his or her life as it does the Warrior's, including the weariness, the emotional scars, the too often overwhelming frustration and, of course, fear.

Except for the possibility that the Warrior may be physically dying from the cancer, the psychological experiences are very similar for Knight and Warrior. In addition to care, the Knight also often has to deal with finances, or, worse, a diminishing source of them; when bad news comes to the Warrior, the Knight too, no matter how weary, must mount up and charge the cancer as well, not from horse and lance, but with care, commitment and, most of all, compassionate firmness. He or she also must deal with their own personal frustrations of the disease, the cruel interruption of their lives, perhaps never again to continue in that life's "old" ways.

It is the Knight who sits through the long empty nights in the hospital rooms, holds the Warrior when his or her nerves give out and tears of frustration follow. It is the Knight who so often has to demand the facts from medical professionals. It is the Knight who so much wants to will away the pain, but can't do a damn thing about it. It is the Knight who suffers in silence, in the spirit of Knighthood. It is the Knight who has the power to weep alone so as not to show their Warrior there is a crack in that confident face; and then show that confident face smiling a few minutes later. It is the Knight who is told he or she is "so strong," when the truth is only another Knight truly knows the strength Knighthood requires.
And if the cancer takes the Warrior, it is the Knight left to take the Warrior's memory forward while at the same time finding the strength and resolve to build another life. Again.

And he or she does this with an honor and loyalty that would make Sir Lancelot proud. An honor and loyalty that amazes us all.

God Bless You, Knights. On your shoulders stands the Warrior. And from your strength we take so much from you of what we need to kill the dragon. Without you so many Warriors would lose. Yes, may the Queen too bless and honor the Knights. May all of us.
I had the honor to meet David online and to realize that he truly defined the words of "Hero", "Courage" and "Friend". May his legacy live on for all cancer patients and caregivers. It was a privilege to know such a humble man. I thank Mary sincerely for wanting to share this very special writing with all of us.


Anonymous said...

David has put it so eloquently for all of us caregivers. We cry unknown to our loved ones and try dilegently to cheer them up when nothing seems to be going right. Thanks for posting this. I will check out his website as well.

Anonymous said...

I was a follower of David Foster's blog as well. He was a very talented writer who fought courageously. I like you, am so happy to have known him.

Anonymous said...

Very, very true.