The American Cancer Society states, more than 1.4 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Also, one study claims ʺmore than 50 percent of those patients will receive care by someone in their immediate family.ʺ
When you are a cancer caregiver, it is not only important to assist with physical activities like dressing and cooking, but it also vital to be emotionally supportive.
CNN suggests the following five tips when it comes to being a cancer caregiver:
• Develop relationships with the nurses.
• Volunteer detailed medical information to the doctors and nurses. Detailed information is very important when it comes to your loved one’s cancer. Recall exact dates, types of tests and past procedures.
• Manage your loved one’s expectations. If possible, don’t rush into anything. Take your time and discuss your options or concerns.
• Remember to ask questions until you understand the answer.
Attend medical appoints together. Two brains are better than one and four ears are better than two. Many times, the patient may be overwhelmed and miss some details of the doctor’s conversation. Also, it may be helpful to bring a notebook and write down information. Before the appointment, also write down questions you or your loved one may have for the doctor.
Here are sample questions suggested by CancerCare.org to ask your doctor:
• Do you have any written information about the treatment?
• What is the best way to let you know when we have questions about treatment? Can we call you or your nurse? If so, what is the best time to call?
• Are there any clinical trials we should be aware of?
• What are the goals of treatment?
• How long will treatment last?
• What are the side effects of this treatment?
• Are there any ways to help manage side effects?
• How do we know if a side effect is severe enough to call you?
• Are there any other treatment options?
Being a cancer caregiver can be a positive experience and strengthen the relationship with your loved one. But, it is also important for caregivers to take care of themselves so they can provide the best care for their loved one.
For additional information on cancer caregiving, CancerCare.org offers a free24-page brochure titled, ʺCaring for Your Loved One with Cancerʺ at http://media.cancercare.org/publications/original/1-ccc_caregiver.pdf?1305042530.
When you are caring for a loved one with cancer, remember there is a plethora of sources available. Here are some additional sources for cancer caregivers:
American Cancer Society
American Society of Clinical Oncology
National Cancer Institute
National Comprehensive Cancer Network
Coping with Cancer
A Woman’s Health
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Care Giver Resources:
Family Caregiver Alliance
National Family Caregivers Association
Well Spouse Association
The Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative
4th Angel Patient & Caregiver Mentoring Program
Counseling and Support Groups:
Cancer Support Community
Partnership for Prescription Assistance
Social Security Administration
Patient Advocate Foundation
Home Care Resources:
U.S. Administration on Aging
National Association for Home Care and Hospice
End-of-life Care Resources:
Hospice Foundation of America
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
Reviewed July 27, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle