Cancer is an illness that affects not only the patient, but friends, family, and especially caregivers. Over 15 million adults in the United States are living with cancer today. For these patients, caregivers help them through their diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Caregivers for cancer patients give selflessly of themselves in order to help their loved one. However, being a caregiver is not an easy task and it comes with its own specific challenges. At Orange County Cyberknife cancer center, we understand the difficulties of caring for individuals with cancer and we want to aid you with tips to care for yourself, your loved one, and decrease your chances of caregiver burnout.
Being a caregiver to a cancer patient is an important and crucial role for the recovery of the patient. However, that does not mean it is an easy role to undertake. Cancer caregivers often take on many roles like being a medical advocate for their loved one, at-home nurse, counselor or emotional support person, manager of the household, and the primary wage earner. It is mentally and physically exhausting to do all of these roles while caring for a loved one.
In many situations, caregivers give too much of themselves and do not tend to their own personal needs. This often leads to caregiver burnout which can result in: illness and a lowered immune system, increased stress or anxiety, depression, irritability, resentment, and social withdrawal. While caring for an individual with cancer, it’s just as important to care for yourself and ensure your needs are met as well. The Orange County Cancer Center and our expert radiation oncology specialists want to equip you with the resources and tools to avoid caregiver burnout.
Caregiver Tips from Oncology Specialists
The Orange County Radiation Oncology team recommends the following tips for all cancer caregivers:
Educate yourself on your loved one’s cancer type, their diagnosis, the treatment options available and the side effects of those treatments.
Keep a notebook of notes from doctor appointments, new symptoms, and how your loved one is feeling. This will help you stay organized and remember which questions to ask at the next oncology appointment.
Find a good cancer team. For our oncology specialists in Orange County, this is extremely important. Find a team of doctors who you can trust and who will provide your loved one with the individualized care they deserve.
Expect bad days. Acknowledge and accept that your loved one will have many bad days throughout their cancer treatment and recovery. Your loved one may feel depressed, angry, or just negative, and that is okay. It is not realistic to feel positive and happy all the time, especially given the circumstances.
Go easy on yourself. In many situations, caregivers often feel that they must do everything right and take action immediately. Remember, you are only human. You can go easy on yourself. Know that you are new to this situation and disease as well, you do not need to know everything nor do you need to do everything right.
Stay healthy and make time for yourself. As you care for your loved one, remember to stay healthy. Practice routine exercise and eat a balanced diet. As a caregiver, you need to keep up your health in order to care for others. Additionally, make time for yourself every day. This may be a short 30 minute walk by yourself or meeting friends on the weekend. These are important steps to avoiding burnout.
Accept help when you need it. You do not need to be the sole caregiver. You can have a network of caregivers who help you and your loved one. Do not be afraid to ask for help when it is needed. Caregivers often forget that others want to help them too. This can be as easy as asking a friend or family member to pick up the groceries, stop by the pharmacy, make dinner, or help with some household chores.
Contact Orange County Cyberknife for Radiation Oncology & Oncology Specialists
For questions or concerns about your loved one’s cancer treatment and recovery, please contact Orange County Cyberknife. Our team provides world-class cancer therapy through cutting-edge technology and superlative patient care. Whether your loved one has been diagnosed with cancer of the brain, breast, prostate, or any other area, CyberKnife is here to help. If you’d like to learn more about how CyberKnife can help you or a loved one beat cancer, we encourage you to call us at 714.962.7100 or reach out to us at our contact page.