Helping someone go through a cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery requires understanding, encouragement, patience and energy. Caregivers become part advocate, nurse, organizer and financial analyst in addition to maintaining their other responsibilities. Caring for someone with a life-threatening disease can be emotionally and physically draining. Caregiver burnout can occur even when caring for a dearest loved one. For this reason, you are encouraged to:
• Continue to live your life and not allow it to completely revolve around your loved one’s illness.
• Remember to take care of and be kind to yourself. The job you are performing is difficult and can be taxing. It is important for you to have personal quality time, to do what you like, for you.
• Be aware of how you are feeling emotionally. Depression is common for individuals in your position. Seek professional help immediately if you are experiencing signs of depression.
• Accept assistance from others when offered and make specific suggestions as to what they can do.
• Get educated. The more you know about your loved one’s condition, the more empowered you will feel.
• Support your loved one’s independence. Caring for somebody does not necessarily entail doing everything for that person. New technologies and ideas provide options that help promote a healthy level of independence.
• Listen to your heart. Your gut instincts most often lead you in the right direction.
• Allow yourself to grieve. Then allow yourself to move forward and dream of new possibilities and experiences.
• Seek support from other caregivers and obtain strength and comfort in the understanding of others in similar situations. You are not alone.
Virginia Cancer Institute Patient Information Brochure