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Caregivers a Crucial, Often Invisible Army

Publication: Ultimate Fort Bend, Fort Bend

“More than 60 million Americans will serve as unpaid caregivers at one point during the year,” said Dr. Caesar Tin-U. He's the primary investigator for clinical research trials conducted at Texas Oncology Sugar Land Cancer Center. “Caregivers are truly unsung heroes.”

In his role at Texas Oncology, Tin-U interacts regularly with caregivers. He said their support is essential to patients’ treatment and is often overlooked.

“Family and friend caregivers play a particularly important role in cancer treatment, since 80 percent of treatment is administered on an outpatient basis,” he said.

Tin-U was assistant instructor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Medicine, instructor of medical oncology at Baylor College of Medicine, research medical officer at the Burma Department of Medical Research and house officer at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Rangoon, Burma. He says the role of caregiver can spread across many roles.

“More than mere helpers, they provide support such as follow-up nursing care, treatment monitoring, emotional support, household management and more,” Tin-U said. “Their duties often range from participating in meetings with the patient’s physician, to helping a patient eat, to making sure their loved one takes their prescribed medicine.”

Tin-U says studies show that caregivers often experience feelings of anxiety, stress and depression, so support from friends, family, neighbors and community members helps caregivers to cope with these feelings and enables them to provide their highest level of care for their loved one, the patient. “Saying ‘thank you’ or doing small things to help a caregiver is an important way the average person can provide support during cancer treatment,” Tin-U said.

He added that, in addition to these suggestions, there are several ways Sugar Land residents or Houstonians can help local caregivers.

“I’ve heard from my patients that things as simple as picking up groceries, filling the car with gas, walking the dog, or mowing the lawn are very helpful,” he said. “Texas Oncology has a list of suggestions on the website at www.texasoncology.com/givingthanks.”

NAME: Caesar Tin-U, M.D.
OCCUPATION: Physician
COMMUNITY CONNECTION: Practices at Texas Oncology-Sugar Land
FAST FACT: He is interested in establishing clinical trials related to chemoprevention and cancer treatments, with a focus on developing targeted drugs and therapies for breast and prostate cancers.

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