Nobody plans for cancer. If it happens, the person fighting the disease usually needs some extra help. Often, a family member or friend will step in. This person is called a Caregiver, and they are an important part of a cancer patient’s recovery.
Caregivers help with the day-to-day stuff. They prepare meals and help with bathing and dressing. They are usually in charge of transportation and housework too. Sometimes, caregivers handle finances. Plus, they are also there to support the patient emotionally. It can feel like more than a full time job.
Some caregivers are happy to help and find a sense of meaning in it. Other caregivers feel unprepared and unwilling. No matter how enthusiastic or hesitant a caregiver is, nobody can do it alone.
Being a caregiver is a responsibility. You need to be able to provide reliable support. If you can’t, you need to admit it and find someone who can. You can help yourself be the best caregiver you can by preparing:
- Set up a support network for yourself. Talk to friends, family members, and neighbors to let them know what you’re doing.
- Organize people to help with caretaking. Ask doctors and social workers for referrals. Ask friends and family to step in and help.
- Know your limits and respect them. You can only do what you can do.
- Check in with yourself emotionally. Caretaking can be difficult on you, especially if the person is really sick. If you start to feel depressed, don’t wait for it to get worse.
- Stay physically healthy. Make time for exercise, sleep, and good nutrition.
- Take breaks. Take some time away from the person you are caring for. Do things with other people, do something that makes you feel accomplished, and do things that are just fun and relaxing.