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Your Role

Caregivers are the unsung heroes of cancer care, playing a critical supporting role throughout a cancer patient’s journey. Helping a friend or loved one navigate cancer treatment is a vital role that can take many forms. You’re an essential part of the treatment team. You sacrifice time, energy, and resources in support of your loved ones. At the same time, the emotional and practical support you provide can have a significant positive impact on the outlook of a patient, which impacts outcomes.

Caregiving occurs in many forms, from providing occasional transportation and housekeeping to 24/7 in-home care. With the majority of all cancer treatment now delivered in an outpatient setting, the role of a caregiver has never been more important.

Research indicates most cancer-related caregivers spend more than eight hours a day tending patients receiving chemotherapy. In a sense, you are on a parallel journey with the cancer patient, but with more responsibility.

Caregivers assume numerous new roles, including “nurse,” “financial manager,” “psychologist,” “housekeeper,” and “personal assistant.” You are also their ears at appointments and assistant who ensures questions are asked, appointments are made, and medications are taken.

Caregivers are patient advocates. You should learn all you can about your friend or loved one’s diagnosis, treatment options, possible side effects, and advance care planning, to help make treatment decisions.

Being Prepared to Care

Stepping into the role of a caregiver can be overwhelming, but there are ways to help ease the transition.

  • Talk to your loved one or friend about their medical care and how you can best help.
  • Understand and respect your loved one’s wishes.
  • Educate yourself about their condition using credible resources.
  • Communicate with the patient, doctor, and other family members.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Involve others and delegate caregiving responsibilities to those who offer to help.
  • Stay organized.
  • Be open to new treatments, technologies, and clinical trials.