Self-Care for Caregivers: A Conversation with Gigi Trencher

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 mother was diagnosed with Uterine Carcinosarcoma, an extremely rare cancer that affects less than an estimated 1,000 people in the United States per year. Through her battle with cancer, Gigi’s mother has undergone four different types of chemotherapy, as well as radiation. Unfortunately, none of these methods worked to cure her. She’s currently on a new type of chemotherapy in hopes that it will help to slow down the spreading of her cancer, which is already in her lungs.

Throughout this year and a half journey, Gigi, her brothers, and her father have all stepped in to help take care of her mother. 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 shortly after, and Gigi, an NYC resident, would commute down to D.C. and spend the entire week there while her mother was undergoing treatment. During the second round of chemotherapy, which included radiation everyday for two months, Gigi also moved back to D.C. This was an incredibly difficult period for Gigi as she was working full-time while also taking her mother to and from appointments, doing the house chores, buying groceries, getting medication, and following up with the doctors and nurses regarding lab results. The role of caregiver, as many people know, is in itself a full-time job. Gigi's mother is now in her fourth round of chemotherapy so she goes back to D.C. to help out three days out of the week. For Gigi, this life of going back and forth between NYC and D.C. to take care of her mother has become the norm. Gigi wants to cherish the time she has left with her mother and support her in every way possible so these sacrifices are worth it to her.

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 I'm 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. Carve out that one hour to work out or to meditate or to do something you enjoy. You not only owe it to yourself to be in a good mental space but you owe it to the people around you."

Ask for Help 

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I had to learn how to do this because I had no choice. I am able to live the life I do, living in both NYC and D.C. because I was able to ask my brothers, father, other family members, and friends for their support. And don't be surprised when people do show up for you. People want to help.”

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 especially taught me how to be present in a world of chaos.”

Through this experience, Gigi has also founded “Final Conversations,” a company whose mission is to support family members and loved ones have end-of-life conversations. Often people are afraid to have these conversations and then the wishes of those who pass are never known. 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 having these conversations.