"When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, it affects more than just the patient. It affects the whole family. The caregiver’s world changes dramatically too. Instead of their usual routine, their new normal now includes driving their loved one to doctor’s appointments, sitting with them while they receive chemotherapy and blood transfusions, and constantly being worried about the unknown or the next test results. All while trying to be strong and supportive and take care of everything at home. They may now have to learn how to handle the finances, be in charge of carpool, or learn how to cook.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of facilitating a caregiver support group. The strength that these men and women have is incredible. They have their frustrations, sure, but they are so involved and know so much about the care being provided. They are the true advocate for their families and that is a really hard job. The Cvetko Cancer Center within Baylor hosts a “Caregiver Coffee Break” on the 3rd Wednesday of the month from 3:00 -4:00 p.m. This allows the caregiver to leave the bedside for a quick break to decompress and talk with others going through the same process.
There are so many challenges that a caregiver faces when their loved one is diagnosed. But they are also the rock and support system that keeps everything from falling apart when the whirlwind of a cancer diagnosis happens. That’s why supporting the caregiver is just as important as supporting the patient. You, as a caregiver, have to take care of yourself to be able to take care of your loved one.
Kelsey Thompson is a Patient Advocate for the North Texas Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She understands the patient experience as a blood and marrow transplant registered nurse. She is based at Baylor University Medical Center in the Cvetko Center. She meets with patients and their families after receiving a blood cancer diagnosis.