One of our favorite things in the world is seeing whip-smart, like-minded women banding together to support a common cause. All month we’ve been shining the spotlight on FCancer – an incredible organization dedicated to the prevention and early detection of cancer. Our Guest Editor Yael Cohen Braun is one half of the dynamic duo behind this life changing organization: just recently, FCancer joined forces with F*ck Cancer – if you can believe it, an organization also started by a daughter who wanted to honor her mother’s legacy, Julie Greenbaum – to create one entity that’s impacting lives worldwide. Together, Julie and Yael are taking FCancer’s mission global; starting important conversations, hosting jam-packed events, and providing people everywhere who have been affected by the disease with an invaluable resource as they fight the battle against cancer together.
Both Julie and Yael know what it means to be a caregiver, and how much of an emotional rollercoaster it can be for everyone involved. As two dedicated daughters whose mothers were affected by cancer (Julie’s mother passed away from ovarian cancer), they witnessed and experienced each step of the cancer-fighting process firsthand. Chances are, you know someone who has been affected by the disease – and know how hard it can sometimes seem to stay afloat amidst the darkness. From humor and healing to resources and rituals, here’s Julie and Yael with their best advice on keeping life in balance as caregivers…
Best piece of advice ever received on caregiving:
Yael: With caregiving, you’re trying to save a life. It can feel so desperate. It’s important to remember that your job is just to make their lives easier and happier. Impact the experience, not the outcome.
Julie: Respect what the person is feeling and what they want. Let the person shape what they want from you and, respecting that, go from there.
The one thing all caregivers need on hand is:
Yael: Support. Your “team.”
When your loved one feels overwhelmed:
Yael: Be there. There might not be solutions, so just be there.
Julie: We swear! (laughs)
When you as a caregiver feel overwhelmed:
Yael: Recharge. It’s easy to put everybody before yourself. Take time to take care for yourself – even a few minutes may be all you need to recharge and feel healthy.
Julie: Find who you’re most comfortable with and allow yourself to open up to them. It’s really so helpful to have a close community to talk it out with.
Daily necessity for sanity:
Yael: Being active. Exercise gets those vital endorphins going. Even 20 minutes of exercise can make a world of difference.
Julie: I have three: coffee, exercise, and a good night’s sleep.
My favorite way to show a loved one I care/show support:
Yael: Food! I show my love with food and love to cook for people.
Julie: Spend time with them. Be there with them even if they try to shelter you or not let you in. Don’t let them shut you out during their hardest moments – that’s when they need you more than ever.
Best tactic for staying calm under fire:
Julie: Breathe…and go from there.
Best way to manage the darkest moments:
Yael: Balance – remember you are not alone.
Julie: Humor was huge for me and my family. Also, spend time with the people you feel closest to, the people you can open up to and be fully yourself.
I keep my sense of humor by:
Yael: Couldn’t lose it if I tried with my family!
Julie: Not being afraid to laugh at myself.
Best way to stay positive:
Julie: Positivity needs to be a part of who you are during hard times. For me, staying positive was starting FCancer and focusing on those positive events. Seeing it grow and watching so many people unite in the fight was amazing.
Favorite healing food:
Yael: I want to say chocolate, but…
Julie: Emotionally? Pasta. (laughs) Health-wise? A kale and quinoa concoction. (Editor’s note: we love this quinoa-filled spicy kale salad two ways!)
Yael: Endorphins through exercise.
Yael: My mom.
Julie: 100% my mother. Everything I hope to do is with her in mind.