Taking Care of the Care Givers
The diagnosis of cancer is overwhelming, not only to a patient but also to the patient’s family and friends. Those who care for people with cancer face many challenges throughout the course of the illness. Here at the Health Alliance, we offer a holistic approach to cancer care not only recognizing the physical needs of our patients, but also recognizing and supporting the emotional and spiritual needs of the patient and his or her family.
Some of the following information from the American Cancer Society may help you if you are coping with cancer in your family.
- Cancer patients may feel and express anger and frustration about their illness, and may lash out at those closest to them. Realizing that this is not a personal attack, but one caused by many feelings including fear and feelings of helplessness, may make it easier for family members to cope.
- Some cancer patients become more dependent during their illness, usually out of a feeling of helplessness. They should be encouraged, however, to continue to do some things for themselves. As a caregiver, it is easy to become overprotective, but people with cancer need understanding, not sympathy, and realistic help, not overindulgence.
- Cancer patients are often afraid of the many changes that the disease brings and suspicious of any changes they sense in people around them. Caregivers often need to make special efforts to understand and reassure the patient.
- People with cancer react to their diagnosis in different ways. Some want to talk about it while others do not. Caregivers need to respect the individual’s wishes, but try to keep communication channels open.
- Family members need to learn about their loved one’s disease so that they know what to expect and can be able to communicate effectively with the cancer patient.
- As a caregiver, you should plan time for yourself for rest and recreation. Family members will be calmer and better able to help the patient if they are emotionally rested.
- Call upon other family and friends for help. Asking for outside help is not admitting weakness. It can give you and your family more time to enjoy one another. Often, people are just waiting to be asked to help.
If you or someone you know is facing cancer personally or in their family, the Health Alliance can help. Each of the cancer centers throughout the Health Alliance offer educational areas where you can learn what you need to know about cancer, cancer services and support groups. We can also put you in touch with organizations that can provide additional help, like The Wellness Community and the Caregiver Assistance Network. Our social service departments and hospital chaplains can also be of assistance.
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