Support for Caretakers

Breast Cancer Screening in Alaska

Taking good care

Caring for someone with cancer is one of the greatest expressions of love. Putting aside the business of life to care for one less fortunate can be incredibly rewarding. There are few things we do in our day-to-day lives that benefit another as much. It can also be draining. Doing too much without the support of others can create feelings of resentment that linger long after the crisis is over.

What can a caregiver do to care for themselves, while they care for others?

Maintain a sense of humor

Watch a funny movie. Recall amusing memories. Compare the nurses and doctors around you to your favorite cartoon characters! Cancer is a serious, scary disease, but sometimes laughter is the best medicine.  Laugh – but be sensitive. There is a time to laugh and a time to mourn. And if you feel you overstepped, apologize and forgive yourself. We are all human.

Take care of yourself

Getting adequate rest, exercise and good nutrition are more important than ever when you are caring for another. For those who feel guilty considering their own needs important, consider what you would hope for if the situation were reversed.

Make use of available resources

Seek out resources in your community that are available for cancer patients and their caregivers. Ask for a list of local organizations from your local cancer center. Support groups allow you to share your experiences with others in a similar situation, and can be a source of further resources.

Several online support groups are available, that you can join without leaving your home.

Give as you can but know your limits. Stop periodically to review your giving.

Are you feeling pleasure in your efforts? Giving beyond your ability and sacrificing your own needs may leave you feeling resentful and bitter.

Keep a journal

Writing a journal can be a great way to express those thoughts and feelings you can’t share openly. Checking back over your entries can also help you monitor your stress level and know if you are overextending yourself.

Pamper yourself

Take a bath. Indulge in a massage. Listen to your favorite music. Read an uplifting or inspirational book. Take a time to maintain your friendships. Caring for another does not mean giving up your own needs and desires.