Your Role as a Caregiver
The ripples of a cancer diagnosis extend to spouses, partners, siblings, children and friends. Many of these family members will find they now need to take on the role of caregiver—something they have never done before.
Your main job will be to support and encourage your loved one as they learn about their cancer and make decisions about and then start their cancer treatments. What will this involve? Not all caregivers do all of the same things, but a survey of 66 caregivers who are part of our Cancer Experience Registry® found:
- 91% provided emotional support
- 80% went with their loved one to medical appointments
- 68% helped with decision-making
- 55% coordinated medical care
- 53% provided transportation
- 45% helped manage finances
Becoming a caregiver may seem scary or overwhelming. Know that you are not alone: The Caregiver Action Network estimates that during any given year more than 65 million people in the U.S. spend about 20 hours each week caring for an ill, disabled or aged family member or friend.
There is a growing realization that caregivers need support, and there are programs and services that can help you as you care for your loved one. In fact, many caregivers decide to meet regularly with a social worker or join a family or caregiver support group to make sure they will have the time to talk about their own fears or worries. Support groups are also a good place to get information and advice about caregiving and cancer.
Remember: Sometimes the best thing you can do for your loved one is to just sit quietly together — be present, in the moment, sharing time
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