You may be newly diagnosed with cancer, undergoing treatment, or have years of remission behind you; no matter your current situation, you are a cancer survivor. We encourage you to join the celebration of life by attending a local event for National Cancer Survivors Day on June 3. Hundreds of events are held throughout the United States and Canada every year.
As the National Cancer Survivors Foundation puts it, “show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be meaningful and productive”. Since SYNERGY HomeCare serves many people with cancer, we know the importance of having a strong support system. Join your community in celebrating your life and learning about local resources that can help you through your experience with cancer.
Living with cancer can be tough, and it is important to have a caregiver to help out. Family caregivers can help a loved one celebrate life every day by applying these tips to caring for a family member.
Be Physically Supportive
Cancer itself makes a body weak and causes a lot of pain. Cancer treatments cause nausea and fatigue. Without help, cancer patients often fall behind on housework and have little energy to take care of routine tasks. This is where you, the family caregiver, come in. Be sensitive to your loved one’s needs and ask how you can help, but more importantly, look around the house to see if anything needs to be done. Make sure that the shelves are stocked with easy-to-make meals, and that your loved one has toiletries such as toothpaste and antacids. When you visit your loved one, follow this checklist to ensure their physical support
- Clean untidy rooms
- Stock cupboards and refrigerator with easy-to-make foods.
- Make sure bed sheets are clean.
- Check the bathroom for needed toiletries (toothpaste, lotion)
- Make healthy meals that can be microwave-heated.
Be Emotionally Supportive
Cancer patients often go through a wide range of emotions, so if you expect this beforehand it can help you to cope as a family member. You are on this journey together, but you can prepare yourself and your loved one for the bumps in the road. There are times, especially before doctor appointments that are scary for cancer patients. Encourage your loved one by pointing out how far they have come, and how strong they have been so far. Though you may not entirely understand what your loved one is going through, make sure that you don’t shy away from their emotional needs.
- Make it well known that you are there to support them, and show this by lending an attentive ear.
- Prepare for your loved one (and yourself) to feel depressed, and emotionally drained. To prevent depression, watch for signs of apathy or disconnected behavior.
- Encourage your loved one when they are feeling unwell.
Help Before, During, and After Treatments
In order to help prepare your loved ones for chemotherapy and radiation treatments, be sure to attend and participate in their doctor visits. Make a point of asking the doctor what to expect during and after treatments in order to prepare your loved one as well as yourself.
Chemotherapy treatments require hours of sedentary activity. Being there to spend time with your loved one can make the hours pass faster.
After treatment, you might have to help assist your loved one in more every day activities such as shopping, preparing meals, and other household chores.
Encourage Fun and Low-Energy Activities
Fun activities and games are a great way to help your loved one boost their emotional and social well being. Be on the lookout for new family games that your loved one might enjoy, or even a new place in town to go for a pleasant walk. Who knows, maybe your loved one would like to explore a new creative avenue such as drawing or painting!
Family Caregivers: Take care of Yourself
Time and time again doctors are reminding family caregivers of the importance of taking care of themselves. Pay close attention to your own diet and exercise, not just your loved ones, and don’t neglect your own emotional needs. Be sure to reach out to friends and other family members for support.
Would you like more help or advice about caregiving? Contact your local SYNERGY HomeCare office.