Cancer is a life-changing diagnosis. Malignant tumors can onset in practically any area of the body and do not discriminate by age or ethnicity. When you love a person who has metastasis, you may be startled when you see your relationship affected. How can you be of help to a person who is enduring a painful course of treatment and fear of morbidity? Here are some helpful tips for cancer caregivers.
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If you have someone in your life that has this ugly, complex disease, know that their primary need from you is support. During the worst of therapy and rehabilitation, your parent or possibly partner will be managing many moving parts as far as appointments, health insurance, medications, etc. If you are not currently familiar with project management, do some research on how it can help identify the patient’s needs and how you can fit into their new routine. There are apps, as well, to help you stay on track with managing dates and health goals, including alternatives to Microsoft Project. You are also able to share these plans with anyone who may join your support team in the short- or long-term.
The American Cancer Society will be your primary resource for education in caregiving. This guidance will include referrals for local support groups, holistic therapies like yoga and Reiki meditation, and forums with intel from other survivors and caretakers. Your patient will not be able to keep the myriad of health jargon altogether without help. Take notes at appointments, listening specifically for the exact titles of diagnoses and what to do in the event of an adverse reaction. Take time to go over your notes with your beloved as this will be a good reminder for you of what’s coming up and how you can delegate.
Unfortunately, all stages of this disease will not allow for every conversation with your patient to be, well, patient. They are enduring immense physical and mental stress. There may be multiple body systems that are impaired, forcing the individual to have to cope and gain a new normal more frequently than they would prefer. Your ability to empathize or sympathize with their situation will be key to getting through tough moments. Initiate conversations to validate their feelings during each experience. For instance, do they have increased anxiety in the emergency room, understandably? Rally your team around comfort items that can be sent to the hospital and constant communication with your inner circle. Any opportunity you can take to give them to talk about their current systems, please take it, especially if their behavior changes suddenly and persists.
Being on the response team for a cancer patient is a challenge but not a burdensome task. On the contrary, with many options for communicating with folks who are more knowledgeable on the subject matter, your group of helpmates can be of great assistance with minimal effort. Welcome to the caregivers, club. Please be sure not to forget yourself as you impart on this journey as the team is only as strong as its weakest link.