Living With Cancer
You’re not alone. We’re not only here to administer treatment, we’re here to deliver care, and help in your fight against cancer.
Living with cancer is a challenge. We understand the disease affects you not only physically but emotionally. Being diagnosed with cancer changes everything including your routine, roles, and relationships. Please reach out to a trusted family member, friend or your Northwest Georgia Oncology Centers’ cancer care team, if you need assistance handling the new challenges you face.
Providing care for an aging or ill parent can bring out the best and the worst in sibling relationships. Ideally, the experience of caregiving is a time for siblings to come together and provide mutual support to one another. As a stressful transition, however, the pressure can also lead to strained connections and painful conflict.
One major source of sibling friction is the legacy of family dynamics. Invariably, the demands of caregiving bring out old patterns and unresolved tensions. Past wounds are reopened, and childhood rivalries reemerge. It is not unusual for adult children to find themselves replaying their historical roles in the family, re-creating old dynamics of competition and resentment as they vie for Mom’s attention and affection. Another conflict can arise when one sibling is in denial over a parent’s condition. Adult children who seem unable to accept the reality of a parent’s illness and refuse involvement may be protecting themselves from facing a parent’s eventual death and their own loss. More-active siblings may react with bitterness and anger.
Most often though, discord surfaces from the unequal division of caregiving duties. Generally, one sibling takes on the primary role of caring for a loved one. This may be because he or she lives closest to a parent, is perceived as having less work or fewer family obligations, or is considered the “favorite” child. Regardless of the reasons, this situation can lead the overburdened caregiver to feel frustrated and resentful and other siblings to feel uninformed and left out.
Resolving these conflicts can be challenging. But ignoring the difficulties in a caregiving situation can create greater challenges. Ultimately, strained family relationships can impede a family’s capacity to provide the greatest quality of care to a parent.
Try to forgive family members who continue to refuse to get involved in a loved one’s care. The only thing we have control over in a situation is our reaction. Attempt to work through your negative emotions to take care of yourself and move forward.
For more information call the Family Caregiver Alliance at (800) 445-8106.
© 2008 Family Caregiver Alliance. Copy used with permission. Established in 1977, the Family Caregiver Alliance’s pioneering programs support and sustain the important work of families and friends caring for loved ones with chronic, disabling health conditions. The National Center on Caregiving at Family Caregiver Alliance was established in 2001 to advance the development of high-quality, cost-effective programs and policies for caregivers in every state in the country. Visit www.caregiver.org or call (800) 445-8106 for more information.
The cancer doctors at Northwest Georgia Oncology Centers (NGOC) are committed to providing patient-centered care and building a relationship with patients and their loved ones. We believe good communication and mutual respect are the cornerstones of any successful partnership in the midst of a battle requiring heart, expertise, dedication, and persistence.
Effective communication helps with patient care and reduces patient and caregiver stress improving satisfaction and confidence. To achieve effective communication, patients, caregivers and physicians need to gain a better understanding of each other to build the strong and trusting relationships resulting in the best patient-centered cancer care. Listening to your concerns, answering your questions and providing the best cancer treatment options available are ways the NGOC is fighting for you.
Here are some things you can do to ensure healthy channels of communication:
- Educate yourself about your or your loved one’s disease.
- Write questions down before appointments so you will not forget them. Not all questions beginning with “why” have answers, but we’ll listen, be encouraging and come up with the best, most advanced treatment plan available.
- Make a habit of taking notes during appointments so you can more easily remember what was discussed.
- If you have lots of things to talk about, make a consultation appointment, so the NGOC team can schedule adequate time to address your concerns.
- Use the NGOC website as a resource to learn about our practice and the patient-oriented services we offer.
And most importantly, get to know the NGOC oncology nurses and physician extenders. They are an excellent source of information and support.
Researchers know a lot about the effects of caregiving on health and well-being. The combination of loss, prolonged stress, the physical demands of caregiving, and the biological vulnerabilities that come with age place you at risk for significant health problems as well as an earlier death.
Older caregivers are not the only ones who put their health and well-being at risk. If you are a baby boomer who has assumed a caregiver role for your parents while simultaneously juggling work and raising adolescent children, you too face an increased risk of depression, chronic illness, and a possible decline in quality of life.
But despite these risks, family caregivers of Northwest Georgia Oncology Centers‘ cancer patients of any age are less likely than non-caregivers to practice preventive healthcare and self-care behavior. Regardless of age, gender, and ethnicity, caregivers report problems attending to their own health and well-being while managing caregiving responsibilities.
- Sleep deprivation
- Poor eating habits
- Failure to exercise
- Failure to stay in bed when ill
- Postponement of or failure to make medical appointments
Caregiving can be an emotional roller coaster. On the one hand, caring for your family member demonstrates love and commitment and can be a very rewarding personal experience. On the other hand, exhaustion, worry, inadequate resources, and continuous care demands are enormously stressful. Studies show that an estimated 46 to 59 percent of caregivers are clinically depressed.
You cannot stop the impact of a chronic or progressive illness or a debilitating injury on someone for whom you care. But there is a great deal that you can do to take responsibility for your personal well-being and have your own needs met. If you are struggling with the pressures and stress of caregiving, please talk to your NGOC cancer team to help with resources and support.
Before embarking on or continuing an exercise program while undergoing cancer treatment, please consult with your Northwest Georgia Oncology Centers‘ physician to determine what activity level is most appropriate for you. Maintaining energy for your current daily activity level is important as is regaining any lost strength. No matter what exercise level you’re approved for, be sure to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is important to overall health, but even more so while undergoing cancer treatment.
Listen to your body and don’t over-exert yourself. You may not realize it, but even light to moderate walking can help increase energy levels and boost self esteem. Many patients find exercise also helps reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Be sure to start slowly, but again, only after your NGOC team has cleared you for exercise.
Benefits of exercise often include:
- Reduced stress
- Improved sleep
- Strengthened cardiovascular system
- Enhanced flexibility and range of motion
- Reduced fatigue
- Increased relaxation
- Enhanced self-confidence and feeling of wellness
Make the most of your daily activities by incorporating some of these light to moderate exercise ideas:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Park farther away
- Go down every aisle in the grocery store – whether you need to or not!
- Stroll the mall. You’ll enjoy a controlled environment, people and plenty of places to rest should you tire.
- Work out in water. It is gentle on your joints and you won’t become over-heated. (Use sunscreen if your pool is outside).
- Try Tai Chi, Qi Gong or yoga. These centuries-old forms of exercise incorporate rhythmic breathing and relaxation techniques with gentle movements.
- Gardening can be a nurturing experience. Once again, protect yourself from potential sunburn and insect bites.
- Find something that you enjoy.