Whether you’re younger or older, you may find yourself in a new role as a caregiver. You may have been an active part of someone’s life before, but perhaps now that they are a cancer patient, the way you support them is different. It may be in a way in which you haven’t had much experience, or in a way that feels more intense than before. Even though caregiving may feel new to you now, many caregivers say that they learn more as they go through their loved one’s cancer experience. Common situations that they describe:
- Patients may only feel comfortable with a spouse or partner taking care of them
- Parents may have a hard time accepting help from their adult children
- Adult children with cancer may not want to rely on their parents for care
- Caregivers may have health problems themselves, making it physically and emotionally hard to take care of someone else
Whatever your roles are now, it’s very common to feel confused and stressed at this time. If you can, try to share your feelings with others or a join support group. Or you may choose to seek help from a counselor.
Ask for Help
Many caregivers say that, looking back, they took too much on themselves. Or they wish they had asked for help from friends or family sooner. Take an honest look at what you can and can’t do. What things do you need or want to do yourself? What tasks can you turn over or share with people? Be willing to let go of things that others can help you do. Some examples may be:
- Helping with chores, such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, or yard work
- Taking care of the kids or picking them up from school or activities
- Driving your loved one to appointments or picking up medicines
- Being the contact person to keep others updated
Accepting help from others isn’t always easy. But remember that getting help for yourself can also help your loved one—you may stay healthier, your loved one may feel less guilty about all the things that you’re doing, some of your helpers may offer useful skills and have extra time to give you. Websites such as SignUpGenius or Lotsa Helping Hands can help you organize requests and tasks.
Be Prepared for Some People Not to Help
Sometimes people may not be able to help you. You might wonder why someone wouldn’t offer to help you or your family when you’re dealing with so much. Some common reasons are:
- Some people may be coping with their own problems
- Some may not have the time
- They are afraid of cancer or may have already had a bad experience with cancer. They don’t want to get involved and feel pain all over again
- Some people believe it’s best to keep a distance when people are struggling
- Sometimes people don’t realize how hard things really are for you. Or they don’t understand that you need help unless you ask them for it directly
- Some people feel awkward because they don’t know how to show they care
If someone isn’t giving you the help you need, you may want to talk to them and explain your needs. Or you can just let it go. But if the relationship is important, you may want to tell the person how you feel. This can help prevent resentment or stress from building up. These feelings could hurt your relationship in the long run.