staying powerCEO LETTER

Cancer Caregivers Need Support, Too

Salanger Matt web

If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with cancer, you know how life-changing the diagnosis can be, both for the patient and for you. If you’re helping a family member or friend through cancer treatment in any way, you are a caregiver. This may mean assisting with daily activities, such as going to the doctor or making meals. It may also mean coordinating services or giving emotional and spiritual support.  

Whether you’re younger or older, being a caregiver can be a challenge. You may have been an active part of the person’s life before, but now the way you support them may be different. The National Cancer Institute recommends that, if you become a caregiver, you may find it beneficial to take certain steps:

  1. Ask for help. Many caregivers say that, looking back, they took on too much themselves. Take on only as much responsibility as you can handle. Talk to other family members or friends — they may be able to help.
  2. Take care of yourself. As a family caregiver, you need support while you’re supporting the patient. It’s normal to feel that your needs aren’t important right now, since you’re not the one with the condition. Still, make sure you take time to charge your mind, body and spirit.
  3. Understand your feelings. Giving yourself an outlet for your own thoughts and emotions is important. Think about what would lift your spirits. Would talking with others ease your burden? Or would you rather have quiet time alone? Most likely you need both, depending on what else is going on in your life. It’s helpful for you and others to become aware of what you need.
  4. Connect with your loved one. Cancer may bring you and your loved one closer together than ever before. Often, people become closer as they face personal challenges together. If you can, take time to share special moments with one another. Try to gain mutual strength from all you are going through. This may help you move toward the future with a positive outlook and feelings of hope.
  5. Be thankful. You may be glad for a chance to do something positive and give to another person in a way you never before knew you could. This won’t make caregiving stress-free, but finding meaning in what you are doing will help you cope.

At UHS, we offer resources in cancer support that are of benefit to the person with cancer and to you as a spouse, child, parent, sibling or friend. Many of these can ease the burdens and challenges you both are facing. Among the post-treatment services we offer are these: cancer rehabilitation and support groups, dedicated support from oncology social workers, dietary assistance and transportation assistance for medical appointments.

To learn more about these and other cancer care services offered by UHS, visit UHS Cancer Care. You’ll find information that will assist and encourage you as you take on one of life’s most meaningful journeys — that of the supportive caregiver. 

 

Matthew J. Salanger
President and CEO of UHS

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