Your main job will be to support and encourage your loved one as they learn about their cancer and make decisions about and then start their cancer treatments. What will this involve? Not all caregivers do all of the same things, but a survey of 66 caregivers who are part of our Cancer Experience Registry®
Becoming a caregiver may seem scary or overwhelming. Know that you are not alone: The Caregiver Action Network estimates that during any given year more than 65 million people in the U.S. spend about 20 hours each week caring for an ill, disabled or aged family member or friend.
There is a growing realization that caregivers need support, and there are programs and services that can help you as you care for your loved one. In fact, many caregivers decide to meet regularly with a social worker or join a family or caregiver support group to make sure they will have the time to talk about their own fears or worries. Support groups are also a good place to get information and advice about caregiving and cancer.
Remember: Sometimes the best thing you can do for your loved one is to just sit quietly together — be present, in the moment, sharing time.
he first critical step to managing your cancer treatment is making the decision to empower yourself. At Cancer Support Community, “empower yourself” is a phrase we use to describe the ongoing process of making a personal effort to become educated about your cancer diagnosis, your cancer treatment, your health care team, and ways to improve your overall wellbeing. To become “empowered” means that you choose to adopt a series of actions, behaviors, and attitudes that can improve the quality of your life. It’s not about making monumental changes but rather small incremental steps such as asking questions or self-educating to gain a sense of confidence and control as you move forward with your cancer treatment.
Cancer is treated in a multidisciplinary way, meaning several different types of health care professionals will be managing your care. The selection of your oncologist and health care team is one of the most important decisions you need to make and manage throughout your treatment for cancer. An effective treatment for cancer requires a considerable effort by both you (the patient), and your physician. Forming a strong relationship with your cancer care team will be crucial to managing your cancer journey.
Your active participation in the choices you make with your health care team can make a big difference in your cancer experience and quality of life. One way you can do this is to prepare a list of questions for each appointment. Also, be sure to ask for clarification of any terms you do not understand. If you do not feel like you will be able to develop a good relationship with your doctor, consider finding another one. And remember: It is always ok to get a second opinion on your diagnosis and treatment plan from another doctor.