Cancer and Caregiving: How to Cope
Written by Guest Author: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for the Mesothelioma Center.
A terminal cancer diagnosis can be tough to cope with, but sometimes, patients and their families have a harder time coping with the realities of the disease.
For many patients, cancer symptoms make it difficult to maintain the standard of life they enjoyed before their diagnosis. This is especially common in patients with aggressive, highly symptomatic cancers such as mesothelioma, whose complications make it difficult to handle daily chores. For these patients, it may be best to reach out to a caregiver for help with daily activities.
This can be extremely difficult to cope with – especially for patients who are used to a high level of independence. Coping can also be difficult for caregivers who have to balance their new responsibilities with their existing jobs and personal lives. However, despite the challenges, cancer patients and caregivers can smoothly transition to their new roles with the help of healthy coping mechanisms.
If You are Providing the Care:
Caregivers often fall into a trap of spending so much time taking care of their loved one that they forget to take care of themselves. Even though this may seem well-intentioned, it ultimately makes things harder on the caregiver.
If you are becoming a caregiver, make it a priority to stay involved with your favorite activities. Even though you will have less free time, it is crucial not to ignore your own need for recreation and stress relief.
Support groups are also helpful for new caregivers who are coping with stress, fear and anxiety about their loved one’s condition. They remind caregivers that it is perfectly normal to experience negative emotions and that they should not be ignored. The groups also help connect caregivers with others in the same position.
If You are Receiving the Care:
Asking for help is hard. It may feel like a blow to your pride – but in the end, it will help things go much smoother. Don’t hesitate to ask for help with the tasks that put you in physical pain to complete.
Some of the responsibilities you may wish to ask for help with include:
Remember that your caregiver may feel overwhelmed if you present them with a laundry list of responsibilities. Consider asking several friends to share the duties.
Be gentle with yourself along the way. Just because you require extra care does not mean you are completely losing your independence. Look for activities in your community that you can stay involved in. Gentle yoga classes and walking groups are two opportunities to stay connected while actually managing some of your cancer symptoms!
Author bio: Faith Franz researches and writes about health-related issues for the Mesothelioma Center. One of her focuses is living with cancer.
Great Cancer Forum Offers Advice for Reducing Stress
One of the things that people going through cancer tell me is that their stress levels are sky high. And no wonder – between the diagnosis no one wants to get, the treatments that you need to find time for, and the side effects of said treatments, stress levels go right through the roof.
The American Cancer Society has a great forum you can join – it’s called What Next – and they really do a great job of helping cancer patients deal with all of the things that happen to them.
I’m a member of What Next and I’m really impressed by the quality of answers people receive when they ask questions, it’s a really helpful resource for the newly diagnosed. It’s also a great place to offer help if you’re community minded. Got a question? Just post it and see what follows – it might not be immediate, but you will get answers.
They recently posted an article titled Reducing Stress From Your Life written by Rob Harris, founder of RobCares.com, a website written for caregivers. I loved what he had to say about stress, and the five tips he gives to reduce your stress levels. Please read the article, especially if you’re going through a stressful time. It’s excellent advice.
If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.
Breast Cancer Forums – Remarkable Support
One of the first things I recommend to a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient is to join a breast cancer forum online or a local support group.
There is just nothing better than being able to connect with others who have a similar diagnosis or have already traveled through the gauntlet of breast cancer treatments. There is a wealth of information out there just waiting to help you out!
For myself, I found a support group invaluable. We met twice a month and someone was always there with a welcoming smile, a sympathetic ear and hugs. Oh, and cups of tea and cookies (always nice!). If I had anything at all bothering me, there were several who’d been down that road and had suggestions on how to get through it. Wonderful!
One Word of Caution
As with any group of people, you might run across one or two who take great delight in telling you exactly how bad you’re going to feel when going through chemotherapy (in great detail), or how their doctor misdiagnosed them, twice, but my suggestion is to just steer clear of the Negative Nancies (because they’re out there!) and do your best to take away only the positive messages, the ones that help you the most.
When You Get Through This
The best part is that some day, when you’ve gotten through your own personal journey with cancer, you’ll be able to help someone else who is newly diagnosed. There will be somebody who’s just as scared, nervous, stressed out or badly in need of hope as you were and you’ll be able to tell them what helped you through it.
There’s no better feeling than to help someone else. Books have been written on the subject of volunteering and how good it is not only for the person being helped but for the helper as well.
I have a cartoon that sits over my computer, it’s the Family Circus written by Bil Keane. A father is looking down at his daughter and she says to him “Know what’s a good exercise, Daddy? Reaching down and liftin’ somebody up.” I couldn’t agree more.
I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond