Caring for someone who has cancer is a beautiful gift. This type of relationship can be very different from a spouse, friend or sibling relationship and can often feel amazing to help the one you love. However, it can also produce strain on you and your relationship with that loved one. Caring for someone who has cancer is a beautiful gift. This type of relationship can be very different from a spouse, friend or sibling relationship and can often feel amazing to help the one you love. However, it can also produce strain on you and your relationship with that loved one.
To help you handle the stress that can arise from this type of caregiving, we’ve outlined some steps you can take to help you feel more prepared for your caregiving journey.
Getting organized and gaining knowledge about a subject can often help you feel more confident and relaxed. When caring for someone with cancer, there are several ways you can get organized.
• Learn more about the type of cancer that has been diagnosed. Discover the latest research and different treatment options.
• Find a physician that is right for both of you. Ask other patients about their physicians and attend appointments to see if you have found the right match. Do not be afraid to change physicians – comfort is a big part of a recovery process.
• Prepare for appointments by having a list of questions you want to ask the physician. Take notes during appointments and talk to your physician later if you have more questions.
• Research treatment side effects. Ask your cancer team how those symptoms are best managed and what you can do to help.
You do not have super powers and therefore, cannot do everything yourself. This means that it is crucial to find help when you need it.
• Find help for tasks that are out of your depth or have become too difficult; things like keeping track of finances, making meals every night, doing yardwork or getting the kids to all practices and play dates.
• Find support groups. A support group is a great place to meet people that are going through something similar to you. Talking to a group can also be a good stress reliever.
• Connect with volunteer organizations to see what services they provide.
• Get counseling. Taking care of your mental health is vital, so seek help from a professional, especially if you are feeling depressed.
Work On Your Relationship
From diagnosis to treatment, the recovery process if often a tough burden to bear; for both patient and caregiver. These new roles, new routines and new responsibilities can put a serious strain on your relationship with your loved one. Make sure you take the necessary steps to keep your relationship healthy.
• Find a mediator if certain issues become too large. Talk to your physician about any conflicts surrounding care options.
• Discuss how you feel with your partner. If changes in intimacy, responsibilities and dynamics are bothering you, don’t be afraid to discuss it with your loved one.
• Do not assume you need to make all the decisions. A cancer patient can feel like things are out of their control, so asking what they need can help them take back some authority in their life.
Care for Yourself
You might not be the one with cancer, but that doesn’t mean your health is not important. You need to take care of yourself, not only for you, but to provide the best care for your loved one.
• Stay active. Attempt to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week.
• Maintain a healthy weight by eating lots of fruits and vegetables.
• Get enough sleep.
• Keep up with your own health appointments. Get the flu shot every year.
• Take a break when you need it. Ask for support from your friends, family, volunteers or healthcare professionals.
• Do not forget about your hobbies. Take time for your book club, craft project or movie night.
Taking care of a loved one who has cancer is a big change. Do not forget that you are never alone in your caregiving of a cancer patient. Stay organized, find help when you need it and remember to take care of yourself and your relationship with the person you are caring for.
At Portneuf Cancer Center, we understand the challenge of caring for a loved one. Visit portneuf.org to find helpful resources for you or your loved one.