QUESTION: Our 24-year-old daughter has Stage 4 breast cancer and her doctors have told us nothing more can be done for her. We are holding up well due to the courage and bravery she exhibits every day. There is one aspect of this situation that is particularly heartbreaking for both of as parents. Raquela was in the process of preparing to live in Paris for a year to study art history at the Paris-Sorbonne University when she became ill. Her greatest dream will never be fulfilled and that saddens us beyond belief. There must be something we can do to lessen the pain and suffering this is causing us. Raquela seems much more accepting than we are, and has let it go. What can we do to deliver this dream to our daughter? Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.—Louis and Elena
ANSWER: Your daughter sounds like a beautiful woman on so many levels—her bravery and courage, her intellect and her love of art. I believe there is something you might do to help fulfill her dream. Arrange for a multi-media bedside trip to Paris. Begin by planning the environment for the special evening. Express a joie de vivre—an enjoyment of life—with subdued lighting, candles and classical music playing softly in the background. Present Raquela with gaily wrapped gifts such as a lovely bed jacket, a miniature Eiffel Tower or a lacy napkin or handkerchief. Display a delicious array of French treats—wine, cheeses, freshly baked bread, and Parisian pastry. If her appetite isn’t up to the richness of French food, prepare a special plate of surprises she can enjoy. Be sure to use your best dishes and tableware. Once she is settled and comfortable, let the show begin. Play a travel video that embraces your daughter’s interests–one that highlights the culture and history of the City of Lights. One suggestion to consider: Samantha Brown’s Paris video that walks viewers through the unique neighborhoods such as the Latin Quarter, and then up Les Champs-Élysées. Once the video is finished, bring out a beautifully designed art book on The Louvre, and allow Raquela to tour this magnificent building with all of its treasures, page by page. Pour the wine or apple juice and toast the end of a perfect evening. This virtual tour may not be exactly what Raquela had in mind, but it does allow her to enjoy a night in Paris with both of you at her side.
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Patricia Smith is a certified Compassion Fatigue Specialist with 20 years of training experience. As founder of the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project© (www.compassionfatigue.org), the outreach division of Healthy Caregiving, LLC, she writes, speaks and facilities workshops nationwide in service of those who care for others. She has authored several books including To Weep for a Stranger: Compassion Fatigue in Caregiving, which is available at www.healthycaregiving.comor Amazon.com.
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