What It Takes to Be a Caregiver

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Who is a caregiver?

Life changes when a person is told “You have cancer.” But the patient is only one of the people affected by the cancer. Life also changes for those who care about and love the person with cancer. And life also changes for the person who will help the patient get through the cancer experience – the caregiver.

Here, we will talk about the caregiver as the person who most often helps the person with cancer and is not paid to do so. People who are paid to give care tend to have more limited roles, and they are not discussed here.

Unpaid caregivers are sometimes called informal caregivers or lay caregivers. In most cases, the main (primary) caregiver is a spouse, partner, or an adult child. When family is not around, close friends, co-workers, or neighbors may fill this role. The caregiver plays a key role in the patient’s care. Good, reliable caregiver support is crucial to the physical and emotional well-being of people with cancer.

Here is some idea of what to expect if you become a caregiver for a person with cancer along with some tips on ways to take care of yourself during this time.


Last Medical Review: 02/14/2012
Last Revised: 03/23/2012