If you are about to become a caregiver (or just found out that you are a caregiver) of someone with cancer, odds are, you have a lot of new things running through your head. There is a lot you need to know and a lot that you need to learn about care for cancer patients, and care for yourself. Being a caregiver is a job that includes not only logistics and physical needs, but also emotional needs as well. We know that you’re often also handling all of your other responsibilities as well.
Don’t stress, my friend! You CAN do this and your loved one needs you now more than ever! Here are a few simple reminders to help you move forward in confidence as a caregiver of someone with cancer.
1. Take Notes:
There will be A LOT coming at you, so take notes and get organized from the start. Whether you like a handwritten notebook or binder to keep notes straight, or you like a digital version on your phone or small device, find something that works. Just remember, that you might be taking these notes a lot of places so you want something that can easily be taken into an exam room and be with you all on the go!
2. Plan for your own health.
You can’t help your loved one if you aren’t well yourself. Go into this cancer fight with the perspective that you will have times of exhaustion or physical limits. Know your limits and be prepared when you hit them. The last thing you need is to feel discouraged. Go ahead and feel tired, but plan ahead so that you don’t burn out. Perhaps you need others to help fill in so that you get a break from time to time. Perhaps you can’t physically lift your loved one to help them shower or get out of bed. Think ahead to have your network of people around to help!
3. Gather your information:
Gather the vital information that you or someone else might need. This includes insurance information for the patient, doctors’ numbers, pharmacy information, etc. Keep that handy for when others might step in to help or just to save your sanity and make it easy!
4. Plan for irritability ahead of time.
Anyone going through pain and disease will feel grouchy a time or two. Often certain medications have side effects that cause irritability. I’ve found that when I have that as a mental reminder in my head, I don’t take things personally when my patient is frustrated. You can love with grace instead of taking things as an offense.
5. Read my book.
No, seriously. Read my book and read others like it. I wrote Know Your Enemy because I want families to be smart about how they approach the cancer fight and care for cancer patients. I want to help set you up for success because I believe when you know your enemy and are educated, you can fight better and smarter. There are people like me who have walked through the cancer fight multiple times, whether as a patient or as a friend, and you can learn a lot from others!
A cancer diagnosis can be quite the shock, and many people find themselves in caregiving situations by default when that diagnosis comes. You may not feel prepared for this next season, but trust me, you are! You have what it takes to fight cancer with strength and walk alongside your loved one to help them fight with all they’ve got too!