Self-Care for Caregivers: A Conversation with Gigi Trencher

Written by Journey

For Journey LIVE community member, Gigi Trencher, meditation has become a vital part of how she practices self-care while being a caregiver to her Mother.

In November 2017, Gigi’s mom was diagnosed with Uterine Carcinosarcoma, an extremely rare cancer that affects less than an estimated 1,000 people per year. Through her battle with cancer, Gigi’s mom has undergone two different types of chemotherapy, as well as radiation. Unfortunately, none of these three methods worked to cure her. She’s currently on to the last type of chemo there is for this type of cancer, which they’re hoping will help to slow down the spreading of the cancer, as it is already in her lungs. After they found out the results of this round of chemotherapy, their family will start having discussions about how her mom would like to live out the rest of her days.

Throughout this long journey over the past several years, Gigi, her brothers, and her dad have all stepped in to help take care of her mom. In the first round of chemotherapy, one of her brothers moved back to their childhood home in D.C., her other brother moved back part-time, and Gigi, an NYC resident, would come down for the entire week of treatments. During the second round of chemotherapy, which included radiation everyday for two months, Gigi decided to move home to D.C. This was an incredibly difficult period for Gigi as she was working full-time while also taking her mom to and from appointments, doing the house chores, getting the groceries, following up on appointments, and much more. The role of caregiver, as many people know, is in itself a full-time job. Now, in her third round of chemo, Gigi goes to D.C. three days a week with additional help and support from her brothers. For them, this life of going back and forth between their childhood home and their current home to take care of their mother has become the norm. They want their mother to live a  long, full happy life so these sacrifices are worth every bit to them.

In order to stay positive and healthy during this time, Gigi knows how important it is to integrate meditation and aspects of self-care into her life. Gigi says, “I meditate every night before I go to bed so I can find my inner calm and stop all my anxiety. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of my mom, how she is doing, how the cancer is eating her up, and what am I going to do without her. So, when I meditate it takes me away from all that and lets me be at peace.”

Gigi’s advice to those who are also in the role of caregiver centers around three key aspects of self-care:

Love Yourself

“Being a caretaker is one of the hardest jobs out there and for this reason you can’t forget to love yourself as well. Carve out that one hour to work out or to meditate or do something you enjoy. You not only owe it to yourself but you owe it to the people around you.”

Ask for Help 

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I have learned to do this because I had no choice. I am able to live the life I do, living in NYC and the DC metro area because I was able to ask my brothers, father, cousins and friends for their help and support and maybe I am lucky too because I am surrounded by a support system that I never even knew I had until my mother was diagnosed with cancer.”

Be Present and Enjoy Every Moment 

“Live in the now. Enjoy every moment with the person you are caring for. You never know when your last moment will be. Meditation is great for this. It especially taught me how to be present in a world of chaos.”

Through this experience, Gigi has also founded “Final Conversations,” which helps those who are going through the period of having the tough end of life discussions with their terminally-ill friend or family member. For Gigi, she knows how hard it can be to have these conversations so she wanted to be able to support those who also have to brave them.

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