A Care/Support Partner may take on many roles, such as:
We refer to them as CANCER101 (C101) Lifesavers because they are the unsung heroes that help with the care of a loved one diagnosed with cancer. In addition to normal day-to-day responsibilities, care/support partners (also known as caregivers) may also:
- Coordinate care
- Arrange appointments
- Manage insurance, financial, and legal issues
- Communicate with the health care team
- Provide transportation
- Manage and track symptoms, medications and side effects
- Provide emotional support
- Assist with decision-making
Build a Caregiving Community
Don’t do this alone! Building a caregiving community is a crucial step in overcoming the stress and challenges of caregiving.
- Call a family meeting, which may include relatives, friends and/or neighbors, who can lend assistance with some of your caregiving tasks. Make a list of your specific needs, along with a shared calendar, so that as a caregiving team, you can divide and conquer.
- Find your tribe. Lean on the power of a peer network for support, who can relate to your experiences and share invaluable wisdom. This can help alleviate feelings of isolation and give you a forum to share your emotions with people just like you, whether in person or online.
- Your tribe doesn’t always have to be cancer related. Get out for coffee or lunch with friends, and catch up on life beyond cancer. Early on, you may receive support from friends and family as they hear the news about cancer. Over time, you may not hear from them as often, feel you’re too busy, and/or feel guilty leaving a loved one alone. Isolation is detrimental to your soul so make the time to connect.
Top 10 Tips for CANCER101 Lifesavers
There will be good days and bad days, and hopefully the recommendations we’ve compiled from other care/support partners will help.
- Put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others! You can’t be a good care/support partner if you don’t take care of yourself.
- Assemble a caregiving team to divide and conquer tasks. Find your tribe to support you on both cancer and non-cancer talk.
- Some people are private while others will openly discuss their cancer. Respect a loved one’s privacy and desire to share info about their condition.
- Respect your loved one’s choices. You may not always agree with decisions and options chosen.
- Practice the art of listening. Encourage your loved one to share their feelings, but also respect their wishes to sometimes be alone.
- Stay in contact with friends and family. Social isolation can lead to emotional distress.
- Help a loved one maintain a sense of normalcy and stay connected to the world beyond cancer.
- Don’t lose sight of your own identity and interests. Figure out a way to do one thing daily that makes you happy.
- Find a creative outlet and create new experiences for you and your loved one. Self-expression can be healing.
- Find your balance. Learn your boundaries, limits, when to delegate and/or say no.
Resources and Support
There are many resources to help you in your role as a care/support partner, including tips and education about caregiving at home and the hospital, hiring home care services, long distance caregiving, and caring for a parent as a young adult. To access these resources, we’ve curated for you, please click on one of the icons below.