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Caring for the Caregiver


72% of Cancer Caregivers assist with medical/nursing related tasks.
The cost of caregiving –  unpaid caregivers in the U.S. provide services worth $470  billion according to the AARP.
Around half of cancer caregivers have jobs while caregiving.  The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires that employers with 50 or more workers allow caregivers to take off work for up to 12 weeks annually without pay to care for a parent, spouse or child.  Four states – California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York pass laws enacting paid family leave programs funded through payroll taxes that allow caregivers to receive part of their usual salary while on leave.
Since 2014, 39 states have passed the Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable (CARE) Act.  This legislation, developed by AARP , requires hospitals to ask patients if they would like to have hospital staff include the name of a designated caregiver in their records, notify that person when the patient is going to be discharged or moved, and provide training to the caregiver on what to do to help the patient at home.
It is not easy for the caregiver to remember all that was learned in a training session.  There is much information being given to patients and their families, and it can be overwhelming because of the anxiety, stress, and uncertainty of being prepared to handle things at home
once discharge takes place.

Acknowledging the Special traits of Caregivers


Trying to understand what the loved one is experiencing and responding to that.Natural empathy and compassion –  gentleness draws us together.


“Patience is a virtue” – still remains true! Patience while caregiving enhances calmness to be able to help with treatment side effects and  pain management.

Dependability / Reliability

Our loved ones are depending on us to travel in the treatment journey with them as much as possible.  Being dependable is a balancing act with trying to remain independent.  Making a plan on how we will be there with our loved one is key to day to day/week to week routine so that we remain reliable and dependable to follow through caregiving commitment.


Great routines established . . . may from time to time require change.  Here again, reliability and flexibility are a balance.  Moods, care needs, abilities, behaviors – all play a part in the “routine.”   Empathy and patience come into play once again.

Ask for Help

Being a caregiver to a family member is rewarding, can be challenging at times – taking a break is a way to refresh and reboot!  Accepting a helping hand is good for you, your loved one, and is rewarding for the person who is offering to help.  Giving ourselves “permission” to take a break reinforces our desire to continue our compassion, empathy, flexibility, dependability/reliability.

Purple Butterflies ♡ - Butterflies Photo (35243885) - Fanpop

Honoring our Loved One by Loving What We Can do to Contribute/Enhance their quality of life in the Cancer Journey
is something that always remains with us –  it is part of who we are.
who we will always be.      

C A R E G I V E R    S U P P O R T

1.  The American Psychosocial Oncology Society – has a hotline that both patients and caregivers can call to get advice for emotional/mental health support resources in their community.  1 -866-APOS-4-HELP
2.  The Cancer Support Community – provides online advice and information for cancer caregivers, a helpline and support programs at local affiliates.
3.  CancerCare – hosts virtual and in-person support groups and workshops for cancer caregivers.
4.  The Home Alone Alliance – offers video series tailored for family caregivers on mobility and wound care, with more topics to come.    
5.  The National Cancer Institute – provides a booklet on “Caring for the Caregiver,” that includes guidance on making time for yourself, navigating complicated feelings, and asking for help.
6.  The American Cancer Society – provides a guide for caregivers and family members of people with cancer, including
guidance on self-care, supporting your family member, and navigating issues like health insurance and leave from employment.
7.  Cancer Caregivers  resources and support from Cancer Horizon – a good resource for caregivers  (13 resources listed)


Information provided by:  AACR Cancer Today 






You’d Better Not Die or I’ll Kill You: A Caregiver’s Survival Guide to Keeping You in Good Health and Good Spirits by Jane Heller. Caring for an ill spouse is never easy, but Heller, with help from some celebrity friends and caregiving experts, successfully chronicles the lighter side of the 20 years she has spent caring for her husband, who has severe Crohn’s disease.
As a go-to source for answers, this book is a helpful tool for cancer caregivers of every kind. This book in one sentence: Designed to cover a host of topics on caregiving, The American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Family Caregiving, Second Edition gives caregivers detailed information, helpful support, and practical answers to questions that may arise while caring for a loved one facing cancer.
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