People who take care of someone with cancer need to remember to take good care of themselves.
Offering caregiver suggestions is 60-year-old Robert Bowden of Cypress, Texas.
Robert took care of his wife Becky after surgery for a rare tumor of the appendix,
which required months of difficult recovery. Robert says that no matter how prepared
you may be, caregiving isnít easy, and itís crucial to pace yourself:
You have to mentally cope with the situation and know that, especially if somebody was
as sick as Becky was, it's going to take time. They're not going to be well tomorrow.
Youíre in for a long haul; it's not a head cold that will be gone in a week.
Caregivers must make time for themselves, even if it's an odd moment here and there.
During Beckyís 47-day hospital stay, Robert found private time by leaving for the
hospital early in the morning:
It just turned out that when I would get here at maybe 6:00 — that's the time when
she was sleeping her best, and she may sleep until 8:30 — so I'm just sitting there
in the chair watching her sleep for two hours, and it gave me time to think
and organize priorities and keep my focus.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Accept that some friends and family members
may not be able to deal with your loved one's illness.
In fact, Robert and Becky found that the greatest support came from
casual acquaintances and even strangers they met at M. D. Anderson.
Use modern technology to keep in touch with family and friends.
For Robert, e-mail was a godsend:
I could get home at night, type one e-mail and send it to everybody that I knew of.
I had my e-mail contacts in one folder; punch on that folder and every night I could
send a report. I had a digital camera; I would send pictures when I wanted to.
Seek spiritual support. Robert estimates that at least a half million people
were on Becky's prayer list at their Baptist church. By following Robert's suggestions,
caregivers might find balance between taking care of a loved one and themselves.
For CancerWise, I'm Lisa Garvin.
©2007 The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
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