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:

  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Driving to doctor’s appointments
  • Hygienic upkeep
  • Filling prescriptions

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.


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