CARE for Cancer Caregivers
Finding out a loved one has cancer can be overwhelming. Cancer affects not only the person diagnosed but also all those who care about that person. You may be wondering, “What should I do now?” or “How can I help?”
Here are few tips to help you get started
Educate yourself. Learn as much as possible about the patient’s cancer type, treatment options and potential side effects. Ask the patient’s doctor about patient education materials and supportive resources. The more you know about the disease and what to expect, the more confident you and your loved one will feel about treatment decisions.
Accept the bad days. At times, the patient may be depressed, angry or just having a bad day. It’s unrealistic to expect the patient to “stay positive” all the time, so accept the bad days, give your loved one space if needed, and try not to take things personally.
Prioritize responsibilities. It helps to make a list of daily tasks and prioritize what needs to be done. Space out activities with short rest periods, and postpone small tasks. Remember that you don’t have to take on all the responsibilities. The patient probably wants to feel as independent and in control as possible right now.
Make time for yourself. Caregiving can sometimes be isolating and lonely. You don’t have to feel guilty about needing some time for yourself. Your loved one may need the space, too. Start out with small increments of time for yourself each day. Take a walk, watch a movie, call a friend, read a book or listen to music. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, doing something you enjoy can help you feel refreshed.
Keep a journal. Many caregivers feel more emotional than usual as they try to cope with a loved one’s cancer. You may feel angry with the cancer itself, the situation, yourself, your loved one, other family members, doctors, etc. These feelings are all normal. It may help to keep a journal or write a letter to release your thoughts and feelings so you can better manage them.
Staying connected with others may help you feel less alone and provide a much-needed emotional outlet. Share your feelings and concerns with family and friends. Join a caregiver support group, where you can talk about your experiences and trade advice. Online social networks may help you feel connected with others without having to leave home. You may also consider speaking with a professional counselor or spiritual leader.
Tags: Caregivers, cancer, mental wellness, acceptance, motivation, family, mental health, support group, cancer community, cancer awareness, cancer journey, cancer caregivers, caregiving, counsellor, caregiving