When you find out that a loved one has cancer, you may have many questions. It’s not easy to care for a loved one with cancer, but you’re not alone.
There are so many places and people to seek out help from, from medical professionals to community outreach. Here are some resources to help you find answers to the questions you have about cancer and how it affects your loved ones.
Talk With a Doctor About Cancer
Your love one’s oncologist is the best resource to answer some of your initial and most pressing questions. Connect with an oncology social worker who has detailed knowledge about the treatment process and a wealth of resources to help your loved one and yourself navigate this challenging time.
Related Article: Best Personal Alert Technologies for Seniors
Oncology social workers specialize in helping patients cope with their diagnoses, connect with support groups and answer questions.
Read About Cancer
There are numerous books on the topic of cancer, covering a range of topics and viewpoints, from scientific breakdowns to emotional healing and coping mechanisms. There are publications with various scholarly articles, entailing anything from current research and breakthroughs to personal stories and experiences with cancer.
Search for Cancer Groups or Organizations
There are various local and national organizations and groups dedicated to helping those with cancer diagnoses, and caregivers taking care of loved ones with cancer.
- The American Cancer Society. This group addresses many common questions and topics.
- Cancer Care. This organization provides workshops, classes, information, podcasts and publications.
- Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition. If you are looking for information on financial resources or assistance, check out the CFAC, which is a group of national organizations that help provide financial assistance to cancer patients. They have a searchable database with various resources.
- The HealthWell Foundation. This is an independent nonprofit that helps patients afford their medications when health insurance doesn’t cover the cost.
- The National Foundation for Transplants. This group provides fundraising assistance for patients who need transplants, which also includes stem cell and bone marrow.
- The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This organization has a patient financial assistance program that provides limited assistance to help those with blood cancer that have a significant financial need.
- Triage Cancer. This is a national nonprofit that provides materials and resources, including conferences and a blog with articles covering a wide range of topics.
Find Community Support for Cancer Patients and Caregivers
The Department of Social Services in one’s city may also provide food or other assistance, often based on income level. Other community resources may be local churches, mosques or synagogues that may have special classes or assistance for people with cancer. Also, some hospitals have private funds available for cancer patients with financial need.
Cancer Caregiver Self-Care Strategies
Like many caregivers, you may be putting the well-being of your loved one before your own. While this is a noble gesture, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. The saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” is true. The mental burden plus the giving of time, energy, money and attention leads to burnout. You might experience physical symptoms like trouble sleeping. This is why it is so essential to take time to recharge. Here are some tips to help with self-care:
- Take a few minutes each day to do something for yourself. Take a nap, a bath or a walk. Find time to do things that you love and enjoy.
- Connect with others. This gives your emotions a healthy outlet. Don’t neglect your social life. Family and friends are a great support and some may even offer to help. Never feel bad for accepting or asking for help. When a friend offers to help, say yes. Give friends a concrete way to provide assistance. Plus, they will feel fulfilled to know they contributed in some way.
- Join a support group. This helps you connect with like-minded people, or at least others who are in a similar situation and understand what you are experiencing. It helps to know you are not alone. Support groups meet in person, by phone or online, so there is a convenient option no matter your situation or schedule.
- Find satisfaction and fulfillment in your caregiving role. Caregiving enriches your life. Being able to show you love and care is meaningful. You may also make new friends and form new connections, like in a support group or with nurses in the hospital. Your circle of family and friends may find new strength and a greater sense of togetherness.
- Find reasons to be thankful. Practice being grateful to experience empowerment. Enjoying a laugh, reminiscing together and just enjoying one another’s company will give you a deep sense of thankfulness. Each day with your loved one is a blessing. Savor each moment in a new way, with deeper appreciation, understanding how powerful and important each moment you share together is.
Related Article: The Health Benefits of Being Creative