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Shaneel

Husband and caregiver of Heing

"My ultimate goal is to offload as much of the work as possible, so she can focus on enjoying life and what makes her happy."

To hear more about Shaneel's journey click here

Day by day

No two days are ever the same when caring for someone with lung cancer. It swings like a pendulum. There were days when it seemed she was like her old self, and other times when the disease took a heavier toll When her treatment wasn't going well or when her progression seemed to stall, those were pretty tough times. You just have to hang in there and take the good with the bad, day by day.

The healthcare team

I like to use a business analogy when organizing my wife's healthcare. I am the CEO. As such, I work closely with my advisory board of oncologists, oncology nurse, naturopath, trainer and other specialists. My wife Heing, is the chairwoman. She ultimately makes the key decisions based on all the expert advice and various perspectives. Operating our healthcare team in this way keeps things organized and efficient, as each member knows the vital role they play.

Some advice

One indispensable person on your healthcare team, is your oncology nurse. Foster a good relationship with this individual, as he or she will be an important advocate for you in the system. It's a long journey. I found having a small group of friends who know you and what you need, is a tremendous asset. Don't be shy to leverage their individual strengths and skillsets. If they're good people, they'll be there for you.

Strengthen your inner and outer ecosystem:

You can only support your partner to the extent of your physical, mental and emotional strength. Therefore it is important to create an inner and outer ecosystem that nurtures healing and health.

We adopted a clean eating habit. The "dirty-dozen and clean fifteen" list of fruits and vegetables from the Environmental Working Group are a good guideline. We reduced refined sugars, dairy, meat and drink plenty of alkaline water and avoid sugary drinks. After some time you don't miss the acidic foods! I still indulge, but when I do, I eat high quality foods. In our house, chemical cleaners and personal products are replaced with natural products. I think there could be unrecognized carcinogens in conventional products. Natural products are becoming just as effective, so why not switch?

My mental strength comes from my daily walks with my dog, yoga and meditation. I don't promote "traditional" meditation; the goal is to focus on an activity you enjoy such that the noise of daily pressures is muted.

Maintaining your emotional strength is the most challenging. The tools and methods are unique to everyone, so I'm reluctant to give suggestions. My advice is to resolve your past emotional debt; free yourself so you can focus on the present. Move yourself to a higher level of awareness.

Contribute your wisdom:

The knowledge gained on this journey will help your future and may help others. Be active in the community and share your wisdom. I volunteer as a Patient & Family adviser at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre and participate in cancer research conferences. The medical community is very receptive to patient and caregiver feedback and I encourage you to provide it whenever you can.

I encourage you to do your part to help remove the stigma of lung cancer. If you have lungs you can get lung cancer!

Pay it forward:

I wasn't aware of the blood products required by cancer patients until this journey started. I now donate blood regularly and encourage others to do so.