Having cancer is one thing; being the caregiver is another. Both roles can be extremely difficult and there is no set in stone formula for either person. As the person with cancer, I try really hard not to be too needy and to only ask for help when I really need it. I try not to complain and make it very clear that when I do; I am usually just speaking out loud; not expecting my caregiver to come up with a magical remedy.
That being said, I think the very best caregivers are the ones that do not hover; they continue to live their lives’ and continue to treat you just like they did prior to your diagnosis, with one exception; they are aware of your condition and accept that you may now have limitations, and may not always be able to do everything, like you used to.
In a perfect world, they would know when you really needed help, and when to stand back. Often, it is the smallest, little things that make the biggest difference; like laundry you did not have to wash, or dinner that you did not have to make. A hot cup of tea and a foot rub is also always appreciated, but sometimes all we really need to get us through the day is a great, big hug.
One of the most important things that a caregiver needs to know, is that it is often really difficult for us, to ask for help, it is difficult for us to accept the fact that our lives’ have drastically changed and we can no longer do the same things, in the same manner that we used to; and we, as cancer victims hate that, and hate that we become a burden; and we, as the patient, must understand that our cancer affects them, too.
I mean let’s face it; how would we feel being the caregiver? Having to watch our loved ones suffer and battle their disease; I often think that their role may even be more difficult than ours. So maybe we should ask ourselves; “What would we do as a caregiver?”
Things a Caregiver May Consider Doing
- Offer to run errands; such as picking up prescriptions or groceries.
- Offer to take a person to a doctor’s appointment; sometimes the wait is long and this creates a perfect visiting opportunity; quality time is precious.
- Offer to walk their dog.
- Do a once a month house clean; top to bottom.
- Make a pot of soup and freeze in small batches for easy, quick meals.
- Offer to help set up recurring bills on automatic payment schedules.
- Offer to make phone calls.
- Lend an ear; sometimes just listening is just what the doctor ordered.
And remember to take care of yourself, too. A caregivers’ job is not an easy one; it can be exhausting, frustrating and difficult. We know this, and do not expect you to run yourself into the ground; take care of yourself first and know that you are loved and appreciated for you kindness and your care.