Becoming a Caregiver for Someone With Cancer: What to Expect
We all know someone with cancer – either a family member, friend or neighbor. When cancer strikes, it often takes a community or “team” to rally together and help make things easier for the patient and his or her family. Whether you are a team member who makes the occasional dinner, drives someone to school, or is a regular chemo buddy, your role is vital. You are an important player on the caregiver team.
Being a caregiver can be difficult. You must know what to expect. The American Cancer Society sets some expectations for caregivers that may help tackle the steep road ahead:
You Will Experience Mixed Emotions
Despite being sad and angry about having a friend or family member with cancer, you may find tremendous personal satisfaction in your role as a caregiver. You might appreciate and enjoy the opportunity to demonstrate your love for this person.
Caregiving Might Enrich Your Life
You might find a new sense of accomplishment, capability, and strength you did not know you had. You might develop a new sense of purpose and appreciation for life. You might also enjoy knowing that you are making a real impact on someone else’s life.
Caregiving Can Widen and Deepen Your Social Circle
You might find that you meet new people and form new friendships when you care for someone with cancer. Even without a formal support group, you will likely find others in your situation with whom you can bond. You might also deepen existing relationships with extended family members and friends of the patient.
You Might Get Depressed
Be prepared for days where you feel very sad or hopeless. It can be tough to watch someone you love endure cancer treatment. Find a person to whom you can vent or grieve when you are feeling down. It is essential to your well-being.
You Might Have Physical Symptoms
You might have trouble sleeping, eating, and concentrating because of the demands and emotional distress that come with becoming a caregiver. You might have nausea, diarrhea, headaches, or muscle aches from anxiety and stress.
Caregivers Need Support Too
Caregivers must have a support system to ensure they are mentally and physically fit to help their loved one through their illness. It is essential that caregivers maintain their relationships, find time for themselves, and recognize when they need support, or even a break from their responsibilities.
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