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Caring for the caregiver

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Are you caring for a loved one with cancer? Feeling overwhelmed? You're not alone.

When I was a cancer caregiver, it would have been so helpful to have resources to help me and my family through a very difficult time in life. I'm hoping that this blog may now provide you with information and support as you go about your day as a caregiver.

Phyddy_reading.jpgMy series on caregivers will reflect the observations of other caregivers who have been part of a similar journey. It's intended to serve as a practical guide and an emotional survival kit to help you take care of yourself while taking care of someone else.

A caregiver has special needs, which often are quite different from those of a patient. As you probably know, caregiving brings a sudden set of new responsibilities that demand an enormous amount of time and energy. While the caregiving experience may provide opportunities for growth with positive experiences, it also can take an emotional and physical toll, at times leaving you frightened, lonely, burdened and drained.

Many people travel from near and far to receive the world-class treatment that M. D. Anderson offers. While this carries distinct medical advantages, the adjustments that are needed can bring unique challenges. There are many new things to learn, including navigating a large and unfamiliar setting; gaining understanding of medical terminology; building trust with a new staff; managing medications, side effects and schedules; keeping the home fires burning from a distance ... well, the list goes on and on.  

Over the next several months, we'll cover many topics, including thoughts, feelings and actions that caregivers experience. I'll share with you how others have faced these challenges and the methods they used to help them get through this stressful time. I hope the guidance provided here will strengthen, soothe and energize you -- the caregiver -- a pivotal member of the treatment team.

Watch for my next post, which will address the responsibilities and feelings of caregivers. A bit later, we'll talk about identifying your strengths and ways to take care of yourself.

In the meantime, I'd like to hear about your experiences as a caregiver or questions you may have on the topic. Post your comments and I'll do my best to address them.

Caregiver Support at M. D. Anderson



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