Living with cancer blog

Cancer survivor caregivers give crucial support, and need support

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. June 23, 2012

Almost every time I meet a survivor, I also meet their family or friends who are along for care and support. This week, I thought we could talk about family and friends and the impact cancer has on caregivers.

Cancer care and treatment is frequently delivered in an outpatient setting these days. This means more responsibilities as caregivers help to coordinate treatment visits, manage side effects, and provide emotional support.

Other aspects of caregiving include managing finances, running errands, and providing emotional support. As time goes on, stress and anxiety can take an emotional and physical toll on the caregiver.

A few things that may help along the way:

  • When others offer to help, take them up on it. Ask for help with shopping, meal preparation and household chores.
  • Get involved with others. Find a caregiver group, class, blog or a way to connect with others who are experiencing a similar situation.
  • Seek out ways to manage stress — such as mind-body strategies, meditation and other relaxation techniques.
  • Make healthy changes together. If diet or other lifestyle changes are recommended for the survivor, plan to make the changes together for support.
  • Remember to take care of yourself. Your needs are also important during this time. Recognize and address your own emotional, physical and spiritual needs — doing this is vital to both of you.

If you are a caregiver, you may be one of the most important sources of strength for a cancer survivor. Sharing this experience together can deepen your relationship. Recognize your needs, keep the lines of communication open and support each other during this time.

Look for caregiver resources here (www.cancer.net, www.imermanangels.org, www.caregivers4cancer.com, and www.cancercare.org/).

Please share what has helped you as a caregiver.

Follow me on Twitter at @SherylNess1. Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.

With

Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Follow on Twitter: @SherylNess1

6 Comments Posted

Jun. 23, 2012