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Cancer Survivorship: Tips for a Caregiver

Wednesday, June 06, 2012 9:23 AM

Being diagnosed with cancer, at any stage, can be overwhelming and highly emotional. Not only does this news immediately affect the person who is diagnosed with the disease, but it also impacts their loved ones.

As one moves through diagnosis to treatment, often friends and/or family members will serve as caregivers.  National Cancer Survivors’ Day is and an opportunity to recognize and celebrate life, and all of those who have been impacted by cancer.

Carol Flanagan, RN, Living in the Future (LIFE) Cancer Survivorship Program, offers the following words of wisdom to cancer caregivers:

  • Get educated. Learn as much as you can about the disease. While you won’t be able to relate firsthand to what your family member or friend is undergoing, knowing what is going on with his or her illness and emotions can help you provide a better support system.
  • Be positive. It’s normal to be nervous and scared. Maintaining a positive attitude, and bringing fun and laughs into your loved one’s daily life, will help ease the stress of the situation. Staying positive will also help keep you healthy and upbeat, two things that may be very hard to maintain through the journey.
  • Identify a team. Involve other friends and family members in the care process. There will be days when you’ll need a break, and having a network of caregivers can be very helpful both to you and to your loved one. If it’s helpful, create a “to-do” list that can be shared among various caregivers.
  • Be resourceful. Find out what resources are available in your community for people going through a similar journey. Helping with this research can take some of the stress and anxiety of the disease off of the person with cancer. Be sure to look for online resources too. Feel free to join a couple groups of your own, if it will be helpful.

If you’ve cared for a loved one with cancer, what advice would you give others?