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The daily challenges of caring for a loved one with cancer can be overwhelming. Often, caregivers feel alone and unprepared for this new role. Also, caregiving duties may include several different roles at once, such as nurse, counselor, motivator, and medical advocate. The holidays can make caregiving even more difficult as you struggle to balance your different responsibilities.
The holiday season is typically a time of traditions, celebrations and renewed connections with relatives and friends. It can also be a demanding time of family obligations and stress. If you have a loved one with cancer, the holidays become even more complicated.
In anticipation of the holidays, the following questions may arise:
Before you can help your loved one cope with the holidays, you need to be to cope as well. This begins with taking care of yourself. You won’t be able to care for your loved one properly if you are feeling depleted. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, exercise regularly, manage stress, and accept help from others.
In addition, you don’t have to feel guilty about thinking of yourself. Your physical and emotional well being is surely a concern of your loved one, who may feel like they are a burden on you at this time. Showing your loved one that you are managing okay and taking care of yourself will help them feel better too.
Cancer can change the way family members relate to each other. The holidays, on top of everything else, can cause added strain. You may worry about having to face relatives and friends during this time. You may feel protective of your loved one and defensive about the care you have been providing.
For your loved one’s sake, it’s important to keep the peace in the family. Now is the time to put family conflicts aside. Don’t try to solve any underlying issues while your loved one is struggling to get better. Instead, try to put feelings aside for now and focus on what is most important.
When caring for a loved one with cancer, there is no right or wrong way to handle the holidays. Each caregiver faces a unique situation and experiences it differently. You need to discover what works best for your family. To help the holidays go a little more smoothly, you can learn ways to support your loved one. In the process, you and your loved one may experience unexpected rewards of the season, such as forgiveness, courage, family solidarity, and hope.
NOTE: THIS INFORMATION IS NOT INTENDED NOR IMPLIED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE. ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTHCARE PROVIDER REGARDING YOUR LOVED ONE’S CANCER CARE.
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