When do you find time for yourself knowing you have caregiver duties such as managing medication, making appointments, communicating with your loved one’s healthcare team, running errands and more?
“ I always encourage patients and their caregivers to reach out for emotional support because the logistics involved with cancer treatment are so overwhelming. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day needs without ever taking a break to talk to someone to process feelings,” says Katie Bickley, social work counselor, at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
“That is where our Social Work department can step in — to listen or provide a different perspective on all that they are doing right.”
Tips for cancer caregivers
Take advantage of the many specialists who can help. Our medical team has expertise in helping children during treatment for cancer. Ask for assistance from our doctors, nurses, radiation therapists, social workers, and child life specialists. We are here to answer your questions and provide support throughout your journey.
Make sure you understand important information. It can be overwhelming to take in and remember new medical information. Feel free to ask for clarification if something is confusing or unclear. Ask to see pictures or videos to better understand new information. Take notes during appointments to help you remember things along the way. If possible, bring a second set of ears to major appointments to help with some of these tasks.
Keep open communication. Parents often have different coping strategies. Talk about how you each deal best with stress. If your partner or spouse does not seem as distraught as you, it does not mean he or she is suffering any less. Make time to connect as a couple, even when time is limited.
Take care of yourself. While difficult for caregivers, it’s important to practice self-care. Take people up on their offers to help. Accept help from friends and loves ones. Take time to step away for a few minutes to call a friend, grab a coffee, or go for a walk outside.
Advocate for your child. You know your child best. When you notice that your child is having a difficult time, ask for extra help and support. Tell the healthcare team what works best for your child in certain situations, so we can best accommodate your family.
More information and resources on supporting loved ones through cancer treatment.