Caregivers Need TLC Too
Devastated, lost and powerless.
These emotions plagued Rick Marder of Lake County as his 11-year-old-daughter, Stephanie, battled lymphoma.
Comparing his experience to an "emotional rollercoaster," Rick says he and his wife, Beth, endured many silent battles during Stephanie's 14-month ordeal.
"Caregiving is so much more difficult than I can even explain," says Rick. "From the moment of diagnosis right through recovery, your life and priorities change completely ... which is why you need to take extra good care of yourself."
Through long hours at the children's oncology unit and a multitude of challenges, however, Rick and Beth learned 3 TLC principles which they recommend for all caregivers.
- Think positively. "A positive mental attitude is everything," says Rick. "How patients cope with cancer depends on the setting you surround them with. Putting your loved one into a positive frame of mind puts them into a better position to fight the disease."
- Accept help from others. "It's okay to accept the fact that you can't do everything. Accepting help from friends and family and letting them be a part of your support system can be very beneficial," says Rick.
- Maintain a regular diet and exercise regimen. "It's common sense, yet easily disregarded, so keep it a priority," says Rick. "In order to be in the best frame of reference to take care of your loved one you need to make sure that you take care of yourself."
Caregiving can be terrifying and painful at times, Rick admits. "And while you might feel like stifling your needs and emotions, there comes a point when you realize you can't do that," he says. "You need to look out for your own health and sanity because that supports the well-being of your loved one with cancer."
If you or someone you know is caring for a cancer patient, the American Cancer Society has resources that can help.
Call 1-800-ACS-2345 anytime, day or night. Our specialists will listen to your needs and refer you to local help through our statewide Patient Navigation Services network.
You can share information and experiences with other caregivers and patients at the Society Cancer Survivors Network Web site - all from the convenience of your own home.
For a review of steps to help you stay strong, see our Coping Checklist for Caregivers.