Caring for someone who has cancer is a beautiful gift. Of course, this type of relationship can be different from a spouse, friend or sibling relationship. It can at times feel amazing to help the one you love, but it can also be a big strain on you and your relationship with that loved one. Preparing for both for your roles and is a great way to handle the stress that can arise from caregiving.
Follow these tips and start feeling more prepared for your caregiving journey:
Learning about a subject and getting organized will always help you feel more confident and relaxed. When caring for someone with cancer, there are several ways you can prepare:
- Read up on the type of cancer that has been diagnosed. Learn about the latest research and different treatment options.
- Find a physician that is right for both of you. Ask other patients about their physicians and go to 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 think of anything else.
- Research side effects of treatments. 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. Find help when you need it:
- Find help for tasks that are out of your depth or have become too difficult, like keeping track of finances, making meals every night, mowing the grass 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 could also be a good stress reliever.
- Connect with volunteer organizations to see what services they provide.
- Get counseling. Taking care of your mental help is vital. Seek help from a professional, especially if you are feeling depressed.
Work On Your Relationship
From diagnosis to treatment, the cancer process can be hard on both the caregiver and patient. These new roles, new routines and responsibilities can put a serious strain on your relationship with your loved one. Make sure you take steps to keep it 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 his or her control, so asking what he or she needs can help take back some authority in their his or her 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 care you want to give to your loved one.
- Stay active. Shoot for 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 a flu shot every year.
- Take a break when you need it. Ask for support from your friends, family, volunteers or healthcare professionals.
- Find a support group.
- 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. It can feel great to be there for them and provide care where you can, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be difficult at times. Remember you are never alone and that taking care of yourself is also important.
To connect with community groups that help support you as a caregiver, visit https://lovelacecancercenter.com/resources.