If someone you love is going through chemotherapy (chemo), this page is for you. We know what a difficult time this can be. Chemo can be overwhelming for your loved one, for your family, and for you. Our goal is to help all of you get through chemo with the information and support you need.
What is Your Role?The role of the caregiver is varied. It can range from giving emotional support to researching treatment options to helping your loved one stay on their treatment plan. Your support during treatment can be critical.
Fighting cancer can bring up complex feelings. You and your loved one will have needs, questions, and worries that need to be addressed. Below are some emotions that you or your loved one might experience, and tips on how to cope:
- Disbelief: Disbelief is common following a cancer diagnosis. Patients may refuse to believe what they have been told. Denial can be a barrier to timely treatment.
- Fear: Cancer stirs up fears in everyone. Love, understanding and support are essential to help calm your loved one's and your own fears.
- Anger: Anger may stem from the unfairness of cancer. It may also come from the frustration of disruption of one's life. Discussing these feelings with others can help put these feelings into perspective.
- Stress and upset: Stress and anxiety are common responses to cancer. Your loved one may have difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, or headaches. Relaxing may help to reduce stress. Read together, listen to music, or watch a movie. Some find that support groups and counseling can help. Ask for a referral to a specialized professional for a consultation.
- Loss of control: You may feel that things are spinning out of control. You can learn as much as you can about cancer, chemo, and chemo side effects to help you feel more in charge.
- Guilt: You might feel guilty about being well and unable to help your loved one. This is normal and can cause resentments. Support groups for caregivers can offer an outlet for your frustration.
- Depression: Feelings of dread and hopelessness are common for people in treatment for cancer. You can ask for help by speaking with your loved one and his or her doctor.
Getting Active in the Care
Attend doctor's visits with your loved one when you can. Bring a written list of questions to each visit to be sure you ask the doctor everything you want to know. Take notes when the doctor discusses the disease and treatment so that you can review the information together.
Seeking the support from others will give you a chance to discuss problems, seek information, share ideas, and learn how to cope.
Take Care of Yourself
The stronger you are, the better care you can take of your loved one. Take care of your own needs. Build in time for routine exercise and relaxation. Take advantage of offers from friends and family to run errands, prepare meals, and help with chores. Speak with others and find support. It may help to reach out to people who understand the pressure of your role. For more info, check out the following resources: