Caring for a loved one with cancer can be emotionally and physically demanding. It’s a journey filled with challenges, but there’s a silver lining—there are countless resources available to support both the patient and the caregiver.
There are so many places and people from which you can seek out help, from medical professionals to community outreach programs. In this article, we’ll explore a variety of valuable resources that can make the journey a bit easier.
Talk With a Doctor About Cancer
Your loved one’s healthcare team is an invaluable resource. The doctors, nurses, and specialists are there to answer questions, provide treatment options, and offer guidance throughout the cancer journey.
An oncologist is the best resource to answer some of your initial and most pressing questions. You can also 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.
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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.
Community Support for Cancer Patients and Caregivers
Cancer can take an emotional toll on both the patient and the caregiver. Seeking professional counseling or joining a support group can provide a safe space to express feelings, fears, and frustrations. It can be reassuring to connect with others who are going through similar experiences.
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.
Home Healthcare Services
For patients who prefer to receive care in the comfort of their own homes, home healthcare services can be a lifesaver. These services can include skilled nursing care, physical therapy, and assistance with daily activities. They allow your loved one to maintain some level of independence while receiving the necessary care.
Getting to and from medical appointments can be a logistical challenge. Some cancer support organizations offer transportation services to ensure that your loved one can access the necessary treatments and check-ups without stress.
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.
- Delegate Responsibilities: Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family members, or professional caregivers. Delegate tasks such as meal preparation, transportation, or household chores to alleviate some of your burden.
- 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.
- Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries for yourself. This might mean scheduling regular breaks or carving out personal time to relax and recharge.
- Plan for Respite Care: Explore respite care options that allow you to take short breaks from caregiving. These breaks can help prevent burnout and provide you with valuable downtime.
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