Today on #thebigselfcareshare we have Kate Meakin and her husband Phil. I first encountered Kate on Instagram and we connected through our struggles with secondary infertility and recurrent loss. Here she opens up about her husband’s recent cancer diagnosis and the couple’s approach to self-care during a challenging time.
Tell us about yourselves.
Phil and I been together for 17 years, meeting when we were just 21. We finally married 11 years after meeting and are blessed to have a beautiful little boy Austin via IVF. We are just about to embark on our 5th IVF after enduring 3 miscarriages since our son was born.
Infertility has been a major part of our marriage and I started blogging and sharing our story after our first miscarriage. Writing is very cathartic for me and I will always try to help break the silence around baby loss and infertility. Last year, at the age of 38, Phil was diagnosed with a brain tumour. This was devastating for us all, so this year is all about getting Phil fit and well and taking care of ourselves as we try to complete our family.
What does self-care mean for you?
Phil admits he has never really thought about self-care, but what it means to him now is looking after yourself and having more awareness around when you need to make the time for it. Before his cancer diagnosis working a 60 hour week was the norm so self-care wasn’t high on the priority list.
To me, it’s not self-indulgent to care for yourself, it’s a necessity to keeping fit and well.
As a stay at home mum, I have more opportunities to focus on self-care, especially when Austin is in nursery. I make sure that on one of those days nothing is planned so I can enjoy a very quiet day of writing or resting at home. To me, it’s not self-indulgent to care for yourself, it’s a necessity to keeping fit and well. Now with Phil’s diagnosis, there is even more emphasis on self-care; radiotherapy is gruelling for Phil and I need to make sure he has the time to rest, just as do I. It’s about keeping us both healthy, physically and mentally.
What do you find most challenging about self-care?
For both of us, the challenge is setting time aside for self-care when life gets busy. Austin keeps us very busy and we both love to spend time with him, so it can be difficult to prioritise. Phil works hard for his young family and because I’m at home it’s easy to think I’m resting but choosing to dedicate that time to self-care is isn’t simple.
How do you incorporate self-care into your daily routine?
Since his cancer diagnosis, Phil understands now more than ever how important self-care is. The biggest side effect from radiotherapy is fatigue and so we always make sure that he’s well rested so he sleeps for as long as he needs to and takes daily naps. It’s also important for him to keep fit during treatment so it’s recommended that he walk 30 mins a day, which has now become part of his routine.
It’s rare that there’s a single day where there isn’t some sort of treatment or appointment and physically they can be quite demanding. Even the journey to and from the hospital can be gruelling for both of us, and with our next round of IVF now underway it’s essential that we both live and eat well; good fuel is so important.
I have dedicated a day for myself too; a day to write and allow myself the opportunity to speak the words my mouth sometimes struggles to say.
I have dedicated a day for myself too; a day to write and allow myself the opportunity to speak the words my mouth sometimes struggles to say. And taking 5 minutes to just quieten my mind through breathing exercises or a heated face mask is bliss.
On the days Austin is in nursery, Phil and I do simple things together like go out for brunch or a nice walk.
Share a self-care tip, something that’s helped you on the path to being kinder to yourselves.
For Phil, it’s about letting others know when he needs time to rest. The fatigue caused by radiotherapy means relaxation is important and by telling us when he’s tired Phil’s less likely to be interrupted and will get the rest he needs. For me, it’s making self-care a part of every day and not just when I feel exhausted. Prevention is the best cure and so I make sure that self-care is a part of my routine.
Thank you, Kate and Phil, for taking a moment to openly share your experiences. I know your honesty and approach to self-care will benefit others going through their own struggles, fertility or otherwise.