Caring for a Loved One
When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you may be called upon to help take care of that person. If this is the case, you have become a "caregiver." There are many different types of caregivers. Some are family members, while others are friends or support group volunteers. You may be organizing day-to-day activities, like doctor visits or preparing food, or coordinating activities and care from a distance by phone or email. You also may be providing emotional and spiritual support.
What Responsibilities Can You Expect As a Caregiver?
Becoming a caregiver means becoming part of a team that includes doctors, nurses, patient care coordinators and other healthcare professionals. You may be seen as an advocate and important part of the support network for the person you are caring for. Some things you may be asked to help out with include:
- Helping schedule doctor visits
- Helping with daily needs, such as meals and errands
- Taking on your loved one’s tasks
- Learning more about cancer and treatment options
As someone who may be new to the role of caregiving, it’s important to get support for yourself as well as the person you are caring for. There are many resources and support organizations
available that can help you as you embark on the treatment journey with the person you are
Click here for a list of support organizations that can help you get started.
How You Can Help Your
Caregivers can take on many roles. These roles can change as your loved one’s needs change during
treatment. Some of the things you may be asked to do to help support them include:
Bridging Communications—As a caregiver, the patient may permit you to communicate to a larger community of friends and family about the patient’s condition by answering calls, sending emails or updating a daily blog to keep people informed.
Offer Friendship or Emotional Support—As a friend or family member, it’s important to provide companionship to your loved one. Making yourself more available during this time could be as simple as enjoying a meal together, or you could attend medical appointments, run errands, or help with household chores.
Working With the Care Team—Taking the person you are caring for to doctor’s appointments may be a big part of your caregiving experience. You may be asked to provide emotional support, but you may also get permission from the patient to take notes on doctor’s instructions, keep track of medications, and ask the treatment team questions to clarify diagnosis and treatment options.
It’s important to learn how to speak to a doctor and ask important questions.
Click here for some helpful tips and questions to ask the doctor during appointments.
Taking Care of Yourself
As a caregiver for a loved one with cancer, you should also consider how you are feeling physically and
mentally. It’s important to take care of your well-being and reduce your stress levels so you can be an effective
caregiver. Here are some ideas to help you take care of yourself as you take care of your
Keep up with your own medical needs, including checkups, medications, and other medical needs.
Make sure you continue to eat and rest regularly.
Engage in exercise you enjoy under the advice of your doctor.
Make time for yourself. Stretch, read, watch television, or talk on the phone—whatever helps you to unwind.
Remember, as a caregiver you are trying to strike a balance each day by caring for your loved one while also keeping up with the demands of your family and work. Remember to reach out for support when you need it, so you can maintain a healthy mind, body. and spirit.
For more ideas on caring for someone with cancer, download the Advice for Caregivers brochure.
Would You Like to Share Your Story?
If you or a loved one is interested in sharing your
experience on treatment, call 1-800-685-4606.