Ask Jai – Advice for Caregivers

October 2011

Dear Jai:

My wife has pancreatic cancer. Her visitors are coming less and less. What can I do?

Kevin

Kevin,

First, it’s time to rally the troops and give your wife’s friends and family members a pep talk about the important role they play in her life. Battling a life-threatening illness, enduring pain from cancer and its treatments, and facing the threat of dying might make people want close friends and family nearby to make them feel safe, loved, and not alone. Your friends need to know how much you and your wife need them to be a part of her daily life at this time. People may not realize the positive impact of their attention and energy, even if all they do is simply sit with the cancer patient watching television for an hour. Your wife benefits from their company, so make sure to communicate your and your wife’s needs to the loving group of people who surround you. Give them feedback on what is helpful and not helpful to your wife as she goes through different stages of cancer treatment. Open communication will be helpful to all involved.

Please also be sensitive to how your wife’s cancer [...] continue the story

The Existence

A famous Polish actor, 80-year-old Jerzy Nowak (featured in “Schindler’s List”, directed by S. Spielberg and Andrzej Wajda) decided that after death his body should not be buried, but used for the benefit of science. The documentary shows the process of making that decision, the actor’s dilemmas and important thoughts about death. In catholic countries – like Poland – the documentary will be controversial if only for its subject matter. This Polish actor is terminally ill and wants to tell the story from the perspective of a dying man. As an actor he wants to play his last role, at the same time the first leading one, and explain why he decided to donate his body to science. Personal, ironic, and often positive themes in the context of a fundamental, thought-provoking, taboo raising discussion. The film treats its subject in a way which is innovative even on the world scale.