Caregivers and Family
Cancer effects entire families, not just the patient
Even though family members or caregivers don’t have cancer in their bodies, they live with the impact of it the cancer on their loved one. Most caregivers and family members share the same stress over money, how to get to and from appointments, how to cope with side effects cancer brings and how to deal with the worry over what will happen next.
Support Available On-Line
The Cancer Support Community is offering online resources nation-wide through their local chapters. Visit the Cancer Support Community website for more information and to find the chapter closest to you.
Uncertainty and worry are the most common issues for caregivers
Patients are the focus of care for any disease. They get the most attention from doctors and nurses. Everything related to treatment is decided on with the patients’ input. This can make caregivers and family feel powerless and worried they may don’t have all the information they need to support the patient.
Caregivers often feel uncertainty and worry around their new role. Are they doing the “right” thing? Can they get the necessary time off to help with the patient? Many don’t feel they can share these concerns or feelings of sadness with the patient.
Tips for caregivers and family members:
- Appointments: go to appointments and ask questions when you have them. Check out the Advanced Directives page so you understand patient privacy rules.
- Get Information: make use of this website and others (such as the American Cancer Society or National Cancer Institute) to learn more about cancer.
- Simplify: set limits on the time you give to other things or ask for help.
- Be choosy: Surround yourself with people who can bolster your confidence.
- Take care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself is often the hardest thing. Many times, a regular self-care routine: exercise, hobbies, the things we need to do for our own emotional health, are the first to go. Some caregivers feel guilty if they aren’t focusing on the patient. But that's what we all need -- time to re-energize and recharge. To avoid common problems like irritability and waning concentration, restoring yourself is vital.
Cancer is also a genetic disease
For some cancer patients, the cancer itself can affect family members. Learn more about which cancers have a gene that can cause it by visiting our Cancer Genetics page.
Resources for Caregivers through the Rogel Cancer Center
If the person you're caring for is a Michigan Medicine patient, all of the support services available to them are available to you:
- Cancer Nutrition Services
- Complementary Therapies Program
- Social Work and Patient Assistance Center
- Spiritual Care
Community and National Resources for Caregivers
- The Cancer Support Community: Ann Arbor
- Cancer Support Community: Global site
- Caregivers and Family section on the American Cancer Society's website
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- Long-Distance Caregiving [pdf courtesy of the National Cancer Institute