If you’re helping your family member or friend through cancer treatment, you are a caregiver. This may mean helping with daily activities such as going to the doctor or making meals. It could also mean coordinating services and care. Or it may be giving emotional and spiritual support.
Giving care and support during this time can be a challenge. Many caregivers put their own needs and feelings aside to focus on the person with cancer. This can be hard to maintain for a long time, and it’s not good for your health. The stress can have both physical and psychological effects. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. It’s important for everyone that you give care to you.
Whether you’re younger or older, you may find yourself in a new role as a caregiver. You may have been an active part of someone’s life before, but perhaps now that they’re a cancer patient, the way you support them is different. It may be in a way in which you haven’t had much experience, or in a way that feels more intense than before.
Even though caregiving may feel new to you now, many caregivers say that they learn more as they go through their loved one’s cancer experience. Common situations that they describe:
Patients may only feel comfortable with a spouse or partner taking care of them
Caregivers with children struggle to take care of a parent too
Parents may have a hard time accepting help from their adult children
Caregivers find it hard to balance taking care of a loved one with job responsibilities
Adult children with cancer may not want to rely on their parents for care
Caregivers may have health problems themselves, making it physically and emotionally hard to take care of someone else
Whatever your roles are now, it’s very common to feel confused and stressed at this time. If you can, try to share your feelings with others or join a support group. Or you may choose to seek help from a counselor.