Coping with Caring and Caregiving
Friends and family are affected by cancer, too. It is extremely hard to see someone you love struggle with a diagnosis of cancer and its treatment. You may worry about losing them and wondering what your life would be like without them. You may be afraid, or unable, to be as intimate as you once were. You might feel hesitant to share your feelings for fear of burdening them.
You also probably have been taking on new or additional roles, as well. Loved-ones often serve as patient advocates, providers of information to family and friends, cheerleaders for the patient trying to keep their spirits up, lay-nurses if medical or personal assistance is needed, not to mention cook, driver, house cleaner, etc. Family members usually take on these duties without much thought, not realizing that they have now shifted into a role as caregiver. However, over time, the combination of all those thoughts, feelings, and roles can begin to take a toll on one's emotional and physical health.
You may be surprised to learn that the most important thing that you can do as a caregiver is to take care of yourself. Your ability to be a good caregiver, to be able to provide the help and support needed, is completely dependent on your maintaining your own physical and mental health. If you become physically exhausted or emotionally overwhelmed, you will not be able to provide the care you want to give your loved one, and both of you will suffer. You may find counseling to be helpful to you as a way to take better care of yourself.