The Cancer Caregiver

Cancer-Caregiver-Wristband-Alternate-2-48717218-1200_1200Cancer patients should be familiar with the idea of the caregiver.  The caregiver is the person or persons that are with you every step of the way on your battle with cancer.  The caregiver is by your side during surgical procedures, treatment appointments, and most importantly during those lonely times when you are tired of the battle and want to give up.  A caregiver can be a family member, close friend, or even a fellow cancer patient.  Cancer caregivers can also be a great help in dealing with everyday issues that are just getting missed due to treatment side effects.  These may include grocery shopping, laundry, and paying bills and dealing with insurance issues.  My caregiver on my own battle with stage 4 kidney cancer has been my wife.  She has been a great support when I was originally diagnosed with kidney cancer and especially when the cancer metastasized to my lungs.  She held my hand and gave me words of encouragement before every one of my bronchoscopy procedures, including the last one that had me in ICU for 4 days on a ventilator.  She even surprised me by flying out to Phoenix and staying with me when I had to stay at the cancer center for a month.

One thing I have learned in my time battling cancer is that caregivers need support too.  One of the chaplains here at Cancer Treatment Centers of America said, “Caregivers may not physically have cancer, but they have cancer too because of their loved one battling cancer.”  I have found this to be true.  Cancer caregivers should take advantage of any resource that will help them to deal with the emotional rollercoaster and stress of being a caregiver.  This could involve spiritual support, counseling, and exercise.  If you are a caregiver to someone with cancer I would encourage you to find support for yourself so you can be healthy enough to care for the cancer patient.

On a personal note, I want to thank my wife for all of the times she sat with me during appointments, procedures, and treatment.  You have had to deal with a lot the past year in caring for me during this battle with cancer.  Thank you dear.

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