Your Journey As A Caregiver

If you are supporting a family member or a friend through their cancer treatment, you are a caregiver. The main caregivers (primary caregivers) are often a spouse or partner, a parent, or an adult child.

As a caregiver, you may help with daily activities such as going to the doctor or making meals for your loved one. It could also mean coordinating services and care, or providing emotional and spiritual support.

Every caregiver reacts to their situation differently. Some caregivers find personal satisfaction and a sense of purpose by caring for their loved one. Others may feel unprepared or unable to manage the responsibilities and emotions that go along with caring for someone. Whatever your own personal situation is, you will be expected to don many hats over the course of the cancer journey, and this may get quite overwhelming.

Being prepared for the road ahead will help you cope better. Here are some things to be mindful of as you embark on your journey of caring for your loved one

Making treatment decisions: When your loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, you may hear about different treatment options and therapies from the people around you – your doctors, family, friends and colleagues. It is very common to feel overwhelmed and unsure which clinical path to take. This confusion can also lead to stress, anxiety and second-guessing every decision you make about your loved one’s treatment. This section provides you with the information you need to know while you explore your options and find the right treatment for you. Read more

Changes in your relationship with your loved one: You might notice that your role and relationship with your loved one changes slightly as you take on the role of the caregiver. Whether you’re younger or older, you may find the way you support them is different now. 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 if the situation is new to you, most caregivers say they learn more along with the cancer experience.

Asking for help if you need it: Whatever your role is now, it’s understandable to feel confused, stressed and overwhelmed. Take account of all the things you have to do, analyse your bandwidth and ask for help for the things you cannot do. Most caregivers, in hindsight, feel they should have asked for help sooner. Assess what is essential for you to do yourself, compared to tasks you can share. Be willing to let go of things that others can help you do.

Taking Care of Yourself

Finding out that your loved one has been diagnosed with cancer can be extremely distressing and challenging for you to deal with. It is important to understand and decide the role you’ll be playing in their journey and prepare accordingly. Many caregivers put their own needs and feelings aside to focus on the patient. You may find that you have no time left for yourself, or you’re so used to caring for your loved one that you’re unable to focus on anything else. This is not a healthy situation for either you or the person you are caring for. The stress can have both physical and psychological effects on you. It’s times like these when a little ‘me’ time might give you the strength and some renewed vigour to carry on

Make time for yourself: Taking a little time during the day for your hobbies, a short walk, or some physical activity can help break the cycle of your care giving duties.

Maintain some aspects of your social life: While being busy with the new lifestyle, you may cut back on personal activities, but do not cut them out entirely. Keeping up with some part of your social life can help you relax.

Maintain your daily routine and schedule, as far as possible: Keeping up with your routine and regular activities can help you maintain some semblance of normalcy in this stressful time.

Seek professional help: It is normal to feel overwhelmed by the current situation in your life. If you feel the stress building and find yourself unable to cope, speak to a therapist or a counsellor.

If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. Here is some more information on managing your emotions as a caregiver. Read more

Whether you are a parent, spouse, child or friend of a cancer patient,
we have specific information that can help you cope at this difficult time.

For Parents and Spouses
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For Children and Family Members
Read more

For Friends and Colleagues
Read more

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