How do you beat cancer when you aren’t the one who was diagnosed?

By Cancer Foundation on April 3 / 2017

[Cancer, Cancer Coaching, Caregivers, Families]Comments

Elderly sick woman resting in bed

Caregivers are instrumental in the fight against cancer – they offer practical and emotional support to their loved one who is facing cancer. But a caregiver’s work can become deeply entwined with their life and family, and they often find they are in need of different supports too.

So what can caregivers do to manage the stress and demands of everyday life with their loved one in order to prevent these symptoms from increasing and leading to caregiver burnout?

Acknowledge Your Needs

The caregiver should acknowledge that their own health and wellness must be addressed if they want to continue caregiving effectively.  This self-awareness is a critical step in moving forward with a self-care plan.

Reach Out For Support

Part of the solution could involve enlisting the help of family and friends on a regular basis to provide short periods of respite care. Reaching out for support is very difficult for many caregivers who often do not want to burden others.   However, it is surprising how many people are willing to help, but are waiting for cues from the caregiver to know what to do. As well, using community resources for support can benefit the loved one and can free up valuable time to allow the caregiver to focus on self-care.

Develop a Self-Care Plan

Developing a self-care plan that is realistic and will adapt to the changing demands of the loved one’s medical status is essential for its success.  The self-care plan should include a list of activities that simulate the mind and body.  Some suggestions include:  a walk outside, go to the gym, have coffee with a friend, gardening, attend an exercise class, have a massage.  If the loved one’s condition is stable, the caregiver may choose an activity from the list.  When the caregiver feels that it is necessary to remain at home as the loved one is very fragile medically, she may choose to create a second list of short five to ten minute activities that can be done at different times during the day.  These could include stretching, breathing exercises, meditating, talking with a close friend on the phone, listening to music, reading or watching TV.

Meet with a Cancer Coach

Caregivers of individuals with a cancer diagnosis can find the support they need from the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. They can meet with a Cancer Coach who will support them in developing a self-care plan.  Caregivers can also participate in group coaching programs to share common experiences with others who are supporting loved ones with cancer and discuss various ways to meet their personal wellness needs.

The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation is helping people living with cancer by providing increased access to person-centered care through the delivery of the Cancer Coaching Health and Social Care Service and the funding of innovative cancer research and a world-class clinical trials program.

Find out more or start with Cancer Coaching

Back to Blog Listing