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Caring for a loved one with cancer can feel like a full time job. Balancing the demands of caregiving with family, household and job responsibilities can be overwhelming. On top of worrying about your loved one’s health, you may struggle with paying the bills, work constraints, and family issues.
Each caregiver faces unique challenges, yet everyone shares a fundamental need. In order to effectively care for your loved one, you need to keep yourself well.
When you become a caregiver, you undergo a change in roles. Maybe you went from spouse to caregiver or from adult child to caregiver. Suddenly, you’re a nurse, counselor, and medical advocate in addition to being a wife, husband, daughter or son.
This role shift may put a strain on your relationship with your loved one. It can take time and understanding for both of you to adjust to this change and the new expectations it brings.
Caring for someone with cancer can be physically and emotionally draining. Physically, you may experience fatigue, changes in your appetite, or problems sleeping. Emotionally, you may feel sad, anxious, guilty, angry, frustrated or helpless.
Too often, caregivers put their own needs aside to focus on their loved one’s needs. This may lead to caregiver burnout, which can manifest itself in the following ways for the caregiver:
Your job as a caregiver must include protecting your own health too. You can’t properly care for your loved one if you’re feeling depleted. Caring for yourself is good for you. When you do, you’ll feel less tired and stressed, and better able to cope with your loved one’s disease. It will also help you be a more effective caregiver.
Additionally, your loved one is probably more concerned about your well-being than you realize. Showing that you’re managing okay will allow your loved one to focus more on their own healing and less on how you’re holding up.
In spite of all the challenges, taking care of someone you love can be very rewarding. Caregiving can bring you closer to your loved one and strengthen your relationship. In the beginning, you may feel alone and unprepared for this new role. Yet, along the way, you may find forgiveness, strength, compassion and courage through caregiving.
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 CARING FOR A LOVED ONE WITH CANCER.
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