Who Is a Caregiver?
"During Dad's treatment, I slid under. My personality and the things I wanted and needed seemed to disappear. Everything went toward working with my spouse and children, trying to make things liveable and tolerable." - Dana
This booklet is for you if you are someone who helped your friend or family member get through cancer treatment. You are that person's "caregiver." You may have helped with day-to-day activities, doctor visits, and medical decisions. You may have been caring from a distance or traveling to help with care.
During the course of treatment, you may have had many roles. You may have done a range of things, from helping to get a second opinion and deciding about treatment, to talking with visitors, or trying to keep your loved one's spirits up. You may have worked with the medical team, too, about issues and concerns regarding care.
As treatment ends, patients and caregivers enter a new phase. Until now, you've probably stayed focused on getting the patient through treatment. You may feel that you haven't had time to think on your own about things and come to terms with the many changes that have occurred. Did you put your own feelings and needs on hold until treatment was over? Most caregivers do.
Once treatment ends, most people want to put the cancer experience behind them. Still, many caregivers aren't sure what to do next. It can be a time of mixed emotions - you may be happy treatment is over. But at the same time, the full impact of what you've gone through with your loved one may start to hit you.