When Your Reserves are Depleted

by | Mar 25, 2024 | Uncategorized | 5 comments

I have a deep faith in God and a close walk with him, but today my husband’s cancer has depleted my reserves. I consider myself a strong believer in Jesus who can handle a lot of stress, but this diagnosis has had a big impact on my life, even though his cancer is very treatable and for that we are incredibly grateful. After shedding many tears and having hard conversations with our children numbness set in. On the outside I appeared to function normally but I was in shock. I went through the day on autopilot: Get up, wash face, put on make up, get dressed, brush hair, pack food, go to the hospital (my husband spent 28 out of 40 days hospitalized between mid-December and mid-January). Checking each item off the list, I pressed on. His first round of chemo was given late January as an in-patient because of his heart condition. The regimen was a 5 day continuous 24 hour IV drip and this was just the beginning.

A Realization

I needed to be positive and upbeat not only for my husand’s sake, but for our family’s too. Putting one foot in front of the other I kept moving forward trying to do everything I always did — relying heavily on God’s strength. However, after all that time in the hospital I began to realize something. I was in shock and worn out. One day I confided to a close friend, “I feel lost, like I woke up in a foreign world and I don’t know the language or how to find my way around. And I’m scared. I don’t know what is ahead. I’ve been deeply shaken by this and I’m not okay.” In that moment another realization dawned on me:This was similar to how I felt when we first received our daughter’s mental health diagnosis, discovering that she was in grave danger of being a suicide victim. I’m sure many of you know from your own experiences that in circumstances of emotional upheaval you somehow manage to function . You go through your daily routine tasks: preparing meals, grocery shopping, doing laundry, but more like a robot on auto-pilot.

The Toll of Being a Caregiver

photo cred. Nani Chavez on unsplash

As a result, you will not see blog posts from me as often. Here on my blog, in my daily emails or on Facebook. What I’ve discovered is that the toll of being a caregiver, walking alongside a loved one going through chemotherapy treatments for cancer, reduces your capacity to be productive or cope with stress. My husband’s protocol is that he has chemo every three weeks for 5 continuous days, with tests and other doctor appointments in between.

I’m not able to give as much of myself as I have previously. I just don’t have it in me. I can’t focus on tasks or manage details like usual. I’ve also dropped a lot of “balls”. You may have heard the term “chemo brain”. Well I think I have it too. I’m more forgetful and accidentally overlook things I need to do. I no longer have the ability to keep all the plates in my life spinning like I used to. An example is that I neglected to send a birthday gift and card to one of my precious granddaughters! I couldn’t belive that happened! It never has before and our oldest grandchild is fourteen. I felt so bad, but …

I’m giving myself a lot of grace. I learned to do that over the years with my daughter who has struggled. Mom or dad, please be easy on yourself too. We’re all doing the best we can and that’s enough.

Fatigue has struck as well: physically and emotionally. All my reserves are needed to cope with this journey God has me on. I’m doing my best to take one day at a time, giving myself plenty of margin. I’ve cancelled all speaking engagements and large group activities for the near future. For the next three months I have made the decision to pull back so that I can care for my family and myself. We’re hopeful my husband wilI be finished with chemotherapy late May or mid-June. Because I care about you I wanted to take a few minutes to share what I’ve been going through so that you will know why you won’t hear as much from me these next couple of months. Many of you already know this because you receive my email subscription. You have been so thoughtful, sending encouraging emails and notes. Thank you very much. I’ve said this before, and it is so true — we really do need each other.

If you’d like to follow my husband Tom’s cancer journey to know how to pray for us, below is the link to his Caring Bridge page. If you create an account and “follow” him you will receive email notifications when he posts a new journal entry: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/tomsjourney5/journal

What Do You Do?

What do you do when your reserves are depleted to care for yourself?





  1. Jane Martin

    I’m so sorry that you and your husband are having to go through this. I’m praying that you will feel God’s love, nearness and peace. thank you so much for the many ways that you have been helping others.!❤️✝️

  2. Dolly Cowan

    Dena, your emails have played such an important part in my life. They often have come at just the Right time/moment I Thankyou for the Blessing you have been in my life. You have taught me to look to God a nd He has given “just enough” to continue on. I pray that daily support for you and Tom from the One Who is Able.

  3. Julie

    I’m a newer subscriber but wanted to send my thoughts and prayers. Our God is standing with you and I pray He gives you the strength, peace and comfort you need. Your emails have been such an encouragement to me. They always come at the right time and have been such a blessing to me. I know God will bring you through this.

  4. Mary Louise Walker

    Dena thank you for your honesty and vulnerability to share your experience and limits.
    You are in my prayers for both you and Tom as Father continues to use you for His Glory in your pain.
    Your words are comforting and encouraging as you continue to persevere in the Valley Walk.
    Your words feelings and facts are common to what I have experienced this past year as you and Tom have blessed me in this journey of being a cancer patient myself, a newly grieving widow and also grieving the effects of mental illness in our oldest son. Your words give my feelings a voice and I thank you.

  5. Carol

    You and Tom have helped so many hurting parents! You both have touched so many lives! I am so thankful for you both! Your love and support have been such a blessing and the hope your ministry has given is a gift! Praying for Tom to go into remission for years to come! Thank you for all you both have done for others!


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