Is This Booklet for Me?
This booklet is for you if your loved one has been told that he or she has advanced cancer that is no longer responding to treatment. It explores many of the questions and crossroads you may be facing now.
Until now, you have probably gone through cancer treatment with your loved one hoping for a remission or recovery. If your health care team is telling you that this may not be possible, you may be facing new choices to make about care and future steps.
Making these transitions in care can be hard. You'll need to focus on the things you can control and what you can do to make this time with your loved one special. You'll want to help the patient live life to the fullest. Many caregivers say that this time gave their life special meaning and a sense of what's important.
There are other booklets available that talk about how to be a better caregiver. But the purpose of this booklet is to focus on you and your needs.
Who Is a Caregiver?
If you are helping someone you love during cancer care, you are a "caregiver." You may not think of yourself as a caregiver. You may look at what you're doing as something natural - taking care of someone you love.
There are different types of caregivers. Some are family members. Others are friends. Every situation is different. So there are different ways to give care. There isn't one way that works best.
Caregiving can mean helping with day-to-day activities such as doctor visits or preparing food. But it can also happen long-distance, when you are coordinating care and services by phone or email. Caregiving can also mean giving emotional and spiritual support. You may be helping your loved one cope and work through the many feelings that come up at this time. Talking, listening, and just being there are some of the most important things you can do.
During this time, the natural response of most caregivers is to put their own feelings and needs aside. They try to focus on the person with cancer and the many tasks of caregiving. This may be fine for a little while. But it can be hard to keep up for a long time. And it's not good for your health. If you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of others. It's important for everyone that you take care of you.