Tag Archives: cancer caregivers

Cancer Caregivers Learn to Change Lifestyles as Part of Their Experience

Cancer Caregivers Learn To Adapt
Cancer Caregivers Learn To Adapt

Taking care of a loved one who has cancer gives both of you a chance to make some beneficial lifestyle changes. Researchers have discovered that the time between the last treatment and the first post-treatment appointment offers the best opportunity for cancer caregivers and patients to make healthy lifestyle goals and begin working toward achieving them. 

The Importance of Timing

Why is this time period so important? Patients tend to feel motivated and encouraged to stay as healthy as possible after completing all of their cancer treatments. This is also a good time for caregivers to join them in making a commitment toward adopting a healthier lifestyle. Doing so together helps both of you stay focused on your goals and hold each other accountable for making progress toward them. Your goals should be ones that will help you maintain physical and emotional health, such as eating nutritious foods and getting regular physical activity. 

Making the Transition

Developing healthy habits as a cancer caregiver isn’t always easy, so it’s important to look for community resources for advice and support. You’ll learn how to slowly make the switch to living healthier and get help with ensuring that you and your loved one both stick to your goals. Keep in mind that by the time your loved one undergoes the last cancer treatment, you might be feeling exhausted physically and emotionally. Plan on starting out with smaller steps instead of making large changes to make things easier for you and your loved one.

If you’re looking for a healthy way to treat cancer, contact Issels®. We specialize in offering non-toxic forms of cancer therapy, including integrative immuno-oncology programs.

Five Cancer Caregiver Tips for the Holidays

Grandparents posing with grandchildren
Take Time to Enjoy Your Caregivers This Holiday

Holidays are often a bittersweet occasion for cancer patients and their caregivers. It’s a time of celebration with friends and family, but it can also create nostalgia and even sadness over the memories of previous illness-free holidays.

If you are a caregiver, it’s important for both you and your loved one that you maintain an emotional and physical balance. These tips will keep things in perspective so you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

• Be honest about your feelings. It’s natural to feel a sense of loss based on the realities of cancer. However, burying those emotions will serve only to intensify them, not eliminate them. Share your thoughts with someone you trust, whether it’s a family member or counselor.

• Modify your expectations. You probably demand more of yourself than anyone else does. Scale back your activities or ask for help when it’s needed.

•Create new traditions. Sharing time with friends and family is the focus of the holidays, no matter what form it takes.

•Ask your loved one about his or her preferences for celebrating the holiday. You may be projecting your own anxieties on them, and you’ll discover that their wishes are simpler than you anticipated.

• Give yourself a pat on the back. You’re making every effort to create a special holiday for your loved one and he or she appreciates it more than you know.

As a caregiver for a cancer patient, you should have your own support system for advice and encouragement. Subscribe to our e-newsletter for medical updates and helpful tips on cancer care.

Three Tips Every Cancer Caregiver Should Know

Tips For Cancer Caregivers
Tips For Cancer Caregivers

It is rewarding but challenging to be a cancer caregiver. Use our tips to meet the challenge successfully:

1. Try to stay positive. Focus on positive and hopeful thoughts and try to keep your sense of humor. While this may be easier said than done, maintaining a positive attitude can help you and the patient cope with cancer’s ups and downs. Find friends, family, clergy and counselors you can turn to when you need an emotional boost.

2. Take care of yourself. Being a cancer caregiver can be physically and emotionally exhausting. In order to care for someone else, you must first take care of yourself. To stay healthy and reduce stress, try to get some exercise every day, eat well-balanced meals and get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. If you are a full-time caregiver, enlist the aid of family and friends so you can take periodic breaks to relax and recharge.

3. Ask for help. Don’t go it alone. Create a support system of people you can talk to about your concerns and feelings. Many caregivers find it helpful to share experiences and encouragement with other caregivers through online cancer caregiver support groups. Invite friends and family members to be part of the caregiving team and ask them to help out with specific tasks such as grocery shopping, driving to doctor visits, taking children to activities, visiting with the patient, dropping off a meal, etc. It can be helpful to keep a go-to list of people who have volunteered to help and the tasks they are able to help with to forestall last-minute emergencies.

Click here for more cancer caregiver tips.

Resources for Family Caregivers

Helping Caregivers Deal with Cancer
Helping Caregivers Deal with Cancer

Cancer has been called a family disease because it affects not only the cancer patient but the entire family. Spouses, parents, adult children and other relatives find themselves suddenly thrust into the role of caregiver.

While being the caregiver of someone you love can be a very rewarding experience and is a role many family members willingly accept, it can also be emotionally draining and physically exhausting.

Local Cancer Support Resources

Taking care of another person on top of your own responsibilities can leave caregivers feeling overwhelmed. It is important to develop a strong support network early. There are many excellent organizations, publications and support groups, both online and in your local community, available to cancer caregivers.

Good places to find local resources include the family resource center of your local hospital, your county or city’s senior services department, churches and local branches of national cancer organizations.

Online Cancer Support Resources 

The following online resources may also be helpful:

National Cancer Institute offers an online cancer information service and live chat.

American Cancer Society offers helpful articles for caregivers and links to cancer support networks.

Cancer Care provides a list of online and telephone support groups for cancer caregivers and sponsors educational online and telephone workshops and podcasts on cancer-related topics. Monthly Q&As with cancer experts offer answers to common caregiver questions.

Family Caregiver Alliance is devoted to supporting caregiver family members and friends. The site offers education, practical tips and resources to help caregivers manage every stage of care.

Caregiver Action Network (formerly National Family Caregivers Association) provides information, education and support for family caregivers and offers online support forums and peer networks.

AARP Caregiving Resource Center provides a comprehensive collection of online tools for caregivers, including connections to experts and other caregivers through online forums.

More Ways to Help a Friend with Cancer

Family Portrait
Family Members Supporting a Cancer Patient

When someone receives a cancer diagnosis, their world turns upside down. The need to evaluate and make treatment choices, the devastating effect standard cancer treatments can have on mind and body, the uncertain outcome of treatment and the impact of the cancer experience on the patient’s family can overwhelm all other aspects of the individual’s life. As we noted in our previous post, when friends and family want to help, cancer patients appreciate specific offers of aid that make their lives easier or that make life feel more normal for their families.

While help navigating the responsibilities of everyday life is necessary and always appreciated, what many cancer patients say they need most is emotional support from their friends and family members. Making time to listen to your friend with a sympathetic ear, provide a sounding board as your friend struggles to evaluate options and make cancer treatment decisions, doing little things to boost your friend’s spirits, and serving as a communications conduit to other friends and family members can be of tremendous help to cancer patients.

Cancer can be an isolating experience. The alternative cancer treatment experts at Issels Medical Center in Santa Barbara, California have found that cancer patients who have supportive friends and family members that are willing to share their cancer journey are best able to cope with the stress and fear that follows cancer diagnosis.

Sign up for Issels’ free e-newsletter to stay abreast of new developments in alternative cancer treatments. For more suggestions on how to help a friend with cancer, follow us on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Cancer Caregivers Must Also Take Care of Themselves

Care Giver Resting
Care Giver Resting

In focusing their energy and attention on taking care of a spouse or family member with cancer, those providing their loved one with care often fail to look after their own health needs. Battling cancer can be an exhausting and frustrating fight.

The daily struggle against cancer is both physically draining and mentally exhausting for both the cancer patient and family caregivers. Caregivers often feel it is selfish to take time to address their own needs, but family caregivers must take care of themselves in order to care effectively for a loved one with cancer.

To prevent burnout and maintain the energy needed to support the cancer patient, family caregivers must see to their own health needs. The 24/7 nature of cancer care means that family and friends must step up to support cancer caregivers and be willing to step in and provide caregivers with regular breaks for rest, relaxation and recreation away from their care giving duties.

If you’re a caregiver or a member of a cancer patient’s support community, consider these tips for caring for cancer caregivers:

  • Get regular exercise.
  • Practice good nutrition.
  • Manage stress with deep breathing exercises, yoga or mind-body techniques.
  • Plan fun things to look forward to during care giving breaks.
  • Spend time with friends doing things you enjoy.
  • Prepare yourself for what’s to come by educating yourself about cancer, cancer care and cancer treatments.
  • Join online caregiver support groups.
  • Look beyond your family and friends for additional support.  Many community groups, churches and healthcare agencies offer support groups, direct aid and/or resources for cancer patients.