When somebody you care deeply about receives a cancer diagnosis, both of your lives can change in an instant and together you begin to embark on a cancer journey.
What to expect
Suddenly you are there to provide emotional support, and in many cases become a caretaker for that person. You may be the primary provider of assistance with daily living functions, give medications, schedule appointments, assist with transportation and you may even become involved with navigating insurance and other legal matters.
Some days, it may feel like an insurmountable task, but it’s important to understand that you are such an important part of another person’s fight, and what you do can help to make their journey less stressful. It will provide rewards to both of you that you never thought possible.
You will no doubt experience a variety of emotions including overwhelming sadness, fear, anger, and frustrations that will leave you feeling like you can’t possibly continue at this pace in meeting the constant demands being made of you.
Knowing the signs
"Caregiver Burnout" can become very real, and a combination of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion as well as guilt can easily change your attitude toward the person you are caring for. Classic signs of "Caregiver Burnout" include:
Taking care of yourself with these ways to cope
If you see any of these signs or are feeling overwhelmed, here are some things that may help:
The National Cancer Institute provides a publication to help caregivers. Caring for the Caregiver is available online and can also be downloaded free of charge. They also provide information to support caregivers of cancer patients.
Other Helpful Resources Include:
The National Alliance for Caregiving partners with other caregiving associations and groups to provide additional resources to help family caregivers.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides resources for their Caregiver Support Program (CSP).