Helping Your Loved One Cope with Advanced Cancer


Support for Caregivers

A book from the National Cancer Institute

Your loved one may be struggling with advanced cancer or with a cancer recurrence. Doctors may be saying that the cancer isn’t responding to treatment. You may have been told that long-term remission isn’t likely. Or your loved one may have decided to discontinue treatment and live out his or her days to the fullest. This may be a time when new decisions need to be made. Shifts in care may be needed or may already be taking place. The burden of making these decisions together may seem much heavier than it used to be. These choices often come with many emotions, such as sadness, anger, and the fear of the unknown. They may also come with questions about how much longer your loved one will live. Thinking or talking about these issues may feel like you’re giving up. But you aren’t. It doesn’t mean giving up hope. People usually cope better when they have different options. Having information about how to deal with tough situations will help. Your loved one still deserves good medical care and support from the healthcare team even if the treatment changes.

Is This Booklet for Me?

This booklet is for you if your loved one has been told that he or she has advanced cancer that is no longer responding to treatment. It explores many of the questions and crossroads you may be facing now. Until now, you have probably gone through cancer treatment with your loved one hoping for a remission or recovery. If your healthcare team is telling you that this may not be possible, you may be facing new choices to make about care and future steps.

Making these transitions in care can be hard. You’ll need to focus on the things you can control and what you can do to make this time for your loved one special. You’ll want to help the patient live life to the fullest. Many caregivers say that this time gave their life special meaning and a sense of what’s important. There are other booklets available that talk about how to give care to a loved one. But the purpose of this booklet is to focus on you and your needs.

Who Is a Caregiver?

If you are helping someone you love during cancer care, you are a “caregiver.” You may not think of yourself as a caregiver. You may look at what you’re doing as something natural—taking care of someone you love. There are different types of caregivers. Some are family members. Others are friends. Every situation is different. So there are different ways to give care. There isn’t one way that works best. Caregiving can mean helping with day-to-day activities such as doctor visits or preparing food. But it can also happen long-distance when you are coordinating care and services by phone or email.

Caregiving can also mean giving emotional and spiritual support. You may be helping your loved one cope and work through the many feelings that come up at this time. Talking, listening, and just being there are some of the most important things you can do. During this time, the natural response of most caregivers is to put their own feelings and needs aside. They try to focus on the person with cancer and the many tasks of caregiving.

This may be fine for a little while. But it can be hard to keep up for a long time. And it’s not good for your health. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. It’s important for everyone that you take care of you.

In Order to get or read the complete material, go to this link – https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/When-Someone-You-Love-Has-Advanced-Cancer.pdf

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