It is usually an unexpected turn of events that leaves a family caring for someone. What it means is that our lives go from super busy and tough-to-manage to what now may seem impossible. Caring for anyone, especially a loved one who is ill with cancer, can be mentally and physically exhausting.
When we, or someone we love, take on the role of caregiver, we can often see what they don’t – we see the toll it takes on them and the stress it puts on their family and home. Even if they pick up the mantle of caregiver with love and pride, the outpouring of emotions and hard work toward a patient ill with cancer can be overwhelming.
So what do we do to support a loved one in that role – and how do we do to get support if it’s us?
First, simply show up. Just because a family develops a routine does not mean that they couldn’t use a break – or an ear. Don’t be afraid to ask about their story or look for how you can support them. An open line of communication is priceless, and sometimes we do a magnificent job of looking like we’ve got it all under control – but we don’t. If you’re the caregiver for a loved one with cancer, resist the urge to say “Fine” when someone asks how you are. Allow yourself to be honest about what’s happening on any given day. Keep those lines of communication open with your own support network too. Sometimes having someone to listen to us is the best medicine.
If you see someone you care about struggle under the burden of caregiving, trust your instincts. The list of small things you can do to help is limitless: Cook a meal (yes, this is obvious, but it’s also always helpful). Offer childcare for their kids so the caregiver can focus on their patient – or even themselves. Put together a pampering basket of books and music. Offer to spend time with the cancer patient – sometimes just keeping them company allows the caregiver and their family to regroup for a little while, even if you’re in the next room.
The bottom line is, don’t be afraid to let someone be there for you – take the risk to reach out and be there for them.
To your health and well being,
Camelot Cancer Care