Two young sisters find themselves having to care for their sole parent on his final journey.
It was a perfect day to be at the seaside. The weather was great, and the breeze was soothing for the two sisters and their ailing father. That day, they had fun spending quality time together taking photographs. It would be one of the last few photos they would have as a family. It was the most memorable experience Sharine and her sister have while caring for their father.
BECOMING YOUNG CAREGIVERS
Their father was a man of few words but showed his love through actions by working hard to bring up his two daughters as a single parent. Being the sole breadwinner, he believed that with hard work comes great rewards. He was also there for them — always — as their confidant and a shoulder to cry on.
But that soon changed when he was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in 2014, which progressed to stage four within the next six years. Since then, Sharine and her sister have been shouldering the responsibility of caring for their father. As young caregivers, it was a struggle for the two sisters. Juggling between their jobs and caring for their father was tough.
Every day, their father would need to take 20 pills throughout at almost two-hour intervals. The sisters relied on their phone alarms to remind them to dole out the medication.
Apart from this, their father had a percutaneous nephrostomy (PCN) catheter to drain his urine which needed proper wound care procedures before and after showering. Due to the constant use of surgical tape, the two sisters spent a lot of time cleaning his skin’s surface.
As their father’s illness progressed, his dexterity worsened to a point where he struggled even to feed himself and became dependent on the two sisters.
However, the two sisters persevered in caring for their father and ensured that they were there for him during his last stage of life — like he was for them when he was healthy.
And in early 2022, their father’s condition deteriorated further, and he was admitted to the Outram Community Hospital (OCH) for palliative care. The OCH palliative care team made sure the sisters were not alone in tending to the care needs of their father.
We are grateful that the care team at OCH provided a listening ear for us to pour out our feelings while caring for our father. I remember their reassuring advice following many tearful sessions.Sharine
When faced with difficult situations, such as how to stop the bleeding when their father had a bad case of water swelling, the two sisters would turn to the care team for help.
“Their journey was tough, but it was their way to repay their father’s love and sacrifices all these years. We are glad that we were there for them,” shared OCH Medical Social Worker Sandy Koh.
PROVIDING HELP FOR CAREGIVERS
Caring for a palliative patient can be stressful for caregivers. At times, this might mean they have to seek emotional and physical support.
Whether it is helping to prevent burnout or providing financial assistance, caring for caregivers is vital to ensure that both patient and caregiver are ready for the journey ahead. “Apart from medical advice, the care team also encouraged Sharine and her sister to take care of themselves so that they will be able to continue caring for their father,” shared Sandy
Words: Outram Community Hospital
Photo: Outram Community Hospital, Freepik