Open Letter to Cancer Caregivers

Who are caregivers?

Caregivers are special, unique individuals. Caregivers go above and beyond to tend to their loved one's needs. They most often place their life on the back burner while performing their duty and they very seldom think of themselves.

Their mission is to go climb to the peak of a mountain to be sure their loved ones are well taken care of. They might slide down that mountain a few times, but they continue to pick themselves up and carry on. While being a caregiver they will acquire many bumps, bruises and scrapes along the way, but they will continue to climb to that peak.

There are no obstacles that a caregiver can't handle. If they do encounter an obstacle they hopefully reach out to a trusted friend or family member for support.

Caregivers feel in their heart that with enough determination and motivation they will hopefully win the battle for their loved ones. Or at least make the battle as smooth as possible. They never, never, never give up. There is no fight that a caregiver can't handle.

They are at each doctors appointment, chemo treatment, test, procedure or available any time they are needed. They lose sleep from stress and worry. They offer positive thoughts and cheer patients on along their journey. They are always at that right place at the right time.

Each year over one million people are diagnosed with cancer. That's over one million caregivers who dedicate their lives to being part of a support system.

The support system becomes the patients team. Not every one is lucky enough to have a support system. I have encountered many cancer fighters who fought on their own and won! Some also lost the battle. But having a team in your corner does benefit the patient. Knowing you have some one there who wants you to beat the beast as much as you do gives them the strength to fight on.

Together the team rallies with the patient and they don't back down. They never take "no" for an answer either.

Caregivers respect the privacy and the freedom of the patient. They do not invade their space. They are still the same person they were before the diagnosis.

The difference now is they have an unwanted intruder that they must dispose of.

Caregivers offer ideas and suggestions. They do no force feed their opinions.

They offer an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and constant support.

Caregivers say "bring it on" with enough enthusiasm for the entire world to hear them. They are angels on earth.

What you could do to assist a caregiver on the verge of burnout...

  • Ask them "how they are?"
  • Offer to run errands for them.
  • Offer to do their yard work or housework.
  • Bring them a home-cooked meal.
  • Allow them to vent.
  • Sit with them in complete silence.
  • Invite them for a walk.
  • Let them know that they are appreciated.
  • Don't assume anything. Ask questions.
  • Don't pester them.
  • Do not tell them how strong they are, because you truly don't know their strength.

My Letter to Caregivers

Dear Earth Angels,

I have had the pleasure of speaking to many caregivers during my span of being a caregiver. You have brought me to tears, many times. You have also inspired me. You have shared tricks of the trade, and we learned from one another. You have given me the strength to pass on to the next caregiver I speak with.

Your unselfishness and heartfelt generosity is recognized by many. You might not realize it, but the energy you emit through your kind actions, carry over to many others who are in a similar situation.

You are tired, but you are more awake then ever. You are frustrated, yet you continue to move forward with valor. You know that when one door closes, you should seek out a window. There are no ifs, ends or buts with your care-giving journey. You have told me that you are on a mission and not even a brick wall could halt your actions. You will take that wall apart brick by brick before you give up. I commend your drive and determination.

You are the caregiver. You make sure that your loved one is receiving the best possible treatments. You keep track of appointments, medications and tests. You make sure that they take their appropriate medications and eat nutritious meals. You make sure they get ample rest.

You do have a tendency to neglect yourself. You might forget that you are also important. Your health is crucial. Without you your loved one would be lost. You could possibly forget that you need to be in tip-top shape. You must find ways to reduce stress, exercise frequently, eat healthy meals and cry in your spare time...if you should happen to have any.

You might begin to withdraw from friends and family due to social anxiety or guilt from leaving the patient alone. Recognize this when or if it happens and don't allow it to persist. Your social circle could also be your support system.

You offer comfort, solace, humor and strength to those around you. You tire of hearing "you are so strong" when in reality you aren't. It's a facade. You are doing what you must do to get the job done. You don't like to ask for help, but it's beneficial to do so. So please ask for help. You don't want to be a burden to others, but to those who know you, that could never happen.

You might be dealing with your own health issues while being a caregiver. During this time, you are carrying a double workload. Be kind to you. As much as you might want to put your health on the back burner, please don't. Seek support from a family member, friend, church or support group. You are not a super hero. You are human. We all have a breaking point. Try not to allow yourself to reach it.

Caregivers will get burnout if they don't take care of themselves. You must always take time out for yourself. Go for a walk, tend to a garden, phone a friend, keep track of your journey in a journal, join a support group, read a book, take naps when possible and most importantly remember to laugh.

Don't allow your humor to be taken away from you. Laugh at anything or anyone. Most days you might not be in the mood to laugh and you might think that nothing could ever make you laugh. Think again, chances are there is something or someone who could turn that frown upside down.

There are two types of pains in this world. Pains that hurt you and pains that change you. You are affected by both pains. Don't allow them to empower you, allow them to teach you.

You deserve the highest award for what you do, yet you don't want the recognition. You don't need the gratitude. You want to heal, cure, tend to and create normalcy within your loved one's life once again. You have a beautiful soul and I hope you keep in mind my favorite mantra "one day at a time."

Whether you are a caregiver for a family member, a friend or you are a professional nurse...I thank you, for all you do. Without you, someone would be very lost and lonely.

What about all caregivers?

I dedicated this hub to cancer caregivers because after caring for my mother and now husband with their cancer treatments I have hands on experience.

I do realize there are many other caregivers in this world and they too are very much appreciated. They carry the load for many and their hard labor will never be forgotten.

There are many diseases that leave their patients bedridden and without their supportive caregivers they would be left to fend for themselves. There are many family members who are devoted caregivers and they are to be commended. Their relentless dedication that they continue to do daily or have performed daily is earning them their heavenly wings.

There are professional caregivers who tend to patients for a living. They most likely chose that career path for one reason or another and they are also angels on earth.

There is always one bad apple...I must mention the professional caregivers that do not chose the career path, yet instead perform their jobs because they have to make a living.

This message is for them...while you are caring for your patients, always keep in mind that they could be one of your family members. Treat them with the utmost respect and graciousness that you would want to be treated if you were in their place. "Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you."

To all caregivers...I salute you!

Burnout Among Caregivers...A sad reality.

Cancer Teamwork on Facebook

Have you been affected by cancer? Have you lost or care for a loved one? Join me on my Facebook Group Cancer Teamwork as the team tries to make a difference one day at a time.

Have you ever cared for a loved one who battled cancer?

See results without voting

© 2012 Linda Bilyeu

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Comments 57 comments

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I never realized the issues that face caregivers of cancer patients. Their unselfish, loving care does seem to go unnoticed. The pain they suffer must be comforted, they are to silent on their need for this. Thanks for bringing this to attention. Loved the letter. Voted up.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

Sunshine,

Thanks for publishing this wonderful tribute.

Thanks, too, for all you do as a Cancer advocate.


Linda K 4 years ago

Great job Linda, You are the best caregiver !


Poetic Fool 4 years ago

Linda, what an awesome hub and it all needed to be said! The role of caregiver is so critical, so draining and often unappreciated. The rewards are few and often just knowing that you did the right thing! Thank you for shining the spotlight on these people with such big hearts. I know a couple of people who need to read this so I will be printing off some copies and handing them out. Thank you for this, dear friend!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

Sunshine, thank you so much for this hub. I need to know this now, because a very special person in my life is suffering cancer, but due to treatment still obviously healthy and energetic. My/our approach/view is, we all will die, I may die before him; we have TODAY to live and love, so let's do it as if there is no tomorrow.


Jason Marovich profile image

Jason Marovich 4 years ago from United States

This is a moving tribute to cancer patient caregivers. Honestly, Linda, your zest for life and love and graciousness is inspiring.


Stokermm profile image

Stokermm 4 years ago from Gainesville, FL

Beautiful writing!!! You, along with the many caregivers out there, are very appreciated!!!! It is a hard, enduring job that they didn't choose but they will never quit. This hub was a great reminder!


KDuBarry03 4 years ago

Caregivers are such selfless individuals and they definitely are very well respected in my books. Now, I can't help but respect them even more. THank you for sharing this Hub. I knew that their jobs are very tedious and demand strong hearts, but I never really realized how strong of hearts they actually have. Thank you for sharing! Voted up :)


theclevercat profile image

theclevercat 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Wonderful list you have added in the sidebar about caring for caregivers close to the edge. Voted up.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Sunshine, dear, sweet lady....This is such a caring and heartfelt message you have addressed to all "special angels on earth." Everything you said is absolute fact.

It is through the help, support and strength of loved ones, that those dealing with catastorphic illness, get through each day, a better, happier individual.

I do relate, GF and my heart and thoughts are with you, Dave and your families. Bless you all. Peace. Effer


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Teaches, My goal is to educate others on the roles of a caregiver and also thank them for their hard work. Your comment tells me that I was successful with both. Thank you!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Thank you Daisy and Gangsta Granny. I appreciate your support.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Hi Rick, Thank you for all you've taught me! Your friendship means a lot.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Martie, I wish your friend well. You know where to find me when you need me. Thank you!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Sue, Thank you for your years of support.xo

Jason, I get by with a little help from my friends. Thanks!!

Stoker, Thank you for having my back;)


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Keith, Rachel, Paula...your thoughts and words are appreciated. Thank you!!


Glyn 4 years ago

Written from the heart. From one caregiver to another,your words always bring a smile...and yes...sometimes a tear,to my eyes. Thank you for opening other's eyes to what we go through. No...it's not US that is suffering from cancer....but our partners. But as you said...we go through everything right alongside of our loved ones....mostly unnoticed. Thanks for noticing Sunshine. Voted up of course! xox


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Hi Glyn, You were on my mind throughout this article. Many caregivers I admire were. Thank you for all your years of support and friendship. xoxo


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

This is very sweet, and what you write is so true. It’s clear this is a heartfelt hub, and one of your best I’d say.

I think your advice for caregivers to take care of themselves is so, so important and no matter how hard it may seem to ask for help it’s harder to not do so. When caregivers of any kind reach out and get the support they need they are far more able to then support others.

As I read your hub I couldn’t help thinking of my mother, who is a cancer survivor herself, and is now supporting my father cope with cancer as well as supporting a daughter who has mental illness. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t see herself as strong and yet she is coping with it all, day in day out. So I agree with what you say that caregivers just do what needs to be done.

Wishing you and yours well.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

All caregivers will kind comfort in your well-thought-out letter. I could not imagine what it would be like on both sides of this equation but you've given me a good idea of the feelings and stresses involved. Voting this Up and Beautiful.


rsusan profile image

rsusan 4 years ago from South Africa

A beautiful, moving hub, Linda. Thanks. I am so, so blessed to have loving and patient parents who have taken care of me over the almost 33 years with ME. Selfless giving of the highest form. Linda, may you receive all you need every single day. God bless, my friend.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Yvonne, Alocsin and Rika...you were all in my thoughts as I wrote this letter. Sending the three of you positive thoughts. Thank you for your comments.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

There is no question, Linda, that caregivers are angels that walk this earth, And so are you, m'dear, both for being one yourself and writing this exquisite, well-deserved tribute. Thank you.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

There are so many carers who will so appreciate this. My brother and I looked after my aunt when she had it, and it is a heart tugging thing, I never realised that you were going through this with your husband, I am sure he knows how wonderful you are too, wonderful words and so true.


PurvisBobbi44 profile image

PurvisBobbi44 4 years ago from Florida

Sunshine,

What an Angel you are to share with us about your experience with Cancer. I know what it takes to be with someone you love more than life---and have to watch them as they battle the dreaded disease.

My heart goes out to all who has a love one with Cancer. I don’t think of myself as a care giver, just a sister and just a niece.

Sunshine you and others like you are the care givers---ones who are there 24/7.

I say a special prayer for all the Hubbers who are care givers, every day. Because they need renewed strength, energy, and the ability to smile, when tears are so near, and most of all they need their faith to be forever strong. Faith is the salve that soothe one's heartache, to heal and take the pain away, to put a smile on your face for the one who needs to see it, to emit calmness, so no negative vibes can reach out to the one who is ill.

Your Hub Friend,

Bobbi


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

drbj, Nell and Bobbi, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments with us. I appreciate them and you!:)


rogerbamps profile image

rogerbamps 4 years ago from Bree in Belgium

Dear Linda Sunshine,

If personal caregiver I greet you with the greatest respect, because I recognize so much in your writing.

Where are they formerly called friend? and now you never come along.

The people who are indifferent to one caregiver and tell you to be yourself, and think your way without your life partner to go.

The courage of the Carers is in their own, and can share their grief sometimes with none.

It's good to know each other that we never give up!!!

Respectful greetings to those who give to others, Roger Bamps from Belgium.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Roger,

Ans is blessed to have you by her side as her caregiver. We should all be lucky enough to have a loving person such as you care for us in time of need. Sending you positive thoughts from Florida to Belgium!!!


Sueswan 4 years ago

Hi Sunshine

I salute you and all the cancer caregivers.

God bless!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Thank you Sue. I appreciate you stopping by to read and share.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

As a loving care giver you recognize what a caregiver needs. You have outlined the good and the bad, the strong and the weak. Your letter is both touching and strengthening. Voted up, useful, interesting and SHARING with my followers.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Thank you Mary for your thoughts, comments, and votes! I appreciate you!


Ionizer2012 profile image

Ionizer2012 4 years ago from Kirkland, WA

Beautiful share. Hard job but so rewarding. Cancer patients have been some of most inspiring people ive ever met.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

What a wonderful heart warming hub....sadly cancer will eventually touch everybody's life......your hub reflects things that can make a tough situation just a little bit better...thanks for sharing....voted up and useful.

On a happier note....Happy Birthday......and I shared this hub with my followers.


midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

Am sharing this hub with my followers as well, Sunshine. The stress on the caregiver can indeed be great, so it is with the patients too. Thanks for a wonderful hub, and a really touching letter!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Ionizer, Thank you for all you do with the people you help. I'm sure it's appreciated.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Hi Cogerson, I appreciate your comment and share!

Michelle, Your thoughts are appreciated.

Thank you both!


healthylife2 profile image

healthylife2 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

That was a beautiful tribute for caregivers. My husband pushed himself beyond human limits to take care of me,our children, and keep his job. Those were also helpful tips and remembering to help the caregivers is helpful and important during such a difficult time.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Healthylife, Kudos to your husband for his support and helping hand. I hope all is well with your family now. Thank you for sharing.


Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

Absolutely loved your letter to cancer caregivers. My very good friend lost her mom to cancer and her father was her mom's caregiver. He was such a wonderful man and took care of his sick and ailing wife. He too passed away 2 years after his wife. When they determined the cause of death, they said believe it or not that even though he was 60 years old chronologically, that physically he was well in his 80s. See from being his wife's constant care giver for those years, he never really did think of himself to the point that he kind of neglected his own health. This was so sad, but true. Have voted up, shared and tweeted too!!


ignugent17 profile image

ignugent17 4 years ago

This is a very special hub and I do hope caregivers can read this. Voted up and more. :-)


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Linda, wonderful hub and I can't think of a better group of people who deserve such a great tribute; heartfelt and sincere - they all deserve our support and praise.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Janine Huldie ~ ignugent17 ~ Jools99 ... Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

Sometimes I think that only other caregivers truly appreciate what cancer caregivers go through and understand, as you do, how selfless these people must be in order to perform the necessary care. Beautiful hub, voted up and shared!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Hi Steph, Your words will touch many caregivers worldwide. Thank you.


tobint44 profile image

tobint44 4 years ago from North Carolina

Great Hub. I have never dealt with this directly, but I have seen how it has affected friends. It is important that we remember these caregivers and provide them with support during their time of trials.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Linda,

We were faced with caring for my dad when he was dying and did the hospice mode before it even existed in San Antonio. Were it not for our small family and a few dedicated friends, we would not have been able to do it. It was exhausting but worth it in the end. He was able to die at home surrounded by the people, animals and things he loved. Your salute to caregivers everywhere is wonderful. Up votes and will share.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

I hope you never have to deal with a situation in which you'd need to be a caregiver Tobint, but if you unfortunately have to you know where to come for advice.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Hi Peggy, The majority of caregivers I know preferred Hospice home care instead of a Hospice environment. No one truly cares for our loved ones like we do. Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm sorry for your loss.


Billie Kelpin profile image

Billie Kelpin 3 years ago from Newport Beach

To the professional "Angel Caregivers" whom you mention and who might be reading your lovely article, might I add my deep admiration? Just recently I was with my 95 year old Aunt Marion (of my "Sequin People" hub) several days before she closed her eyes one last time. One of her last utterances on the night before she died was to the nurse who was on duty. With love in her eyes, she took the nurses' hand, pulled this amazing young woman close to her, and whispered in breaths she could barely get out, "You're so good to me." You're exactly right, Sunshine. These people are truly angels walking upon earth.


Laurinzo Scott profile image

Laurinzo Scott 3 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

One of the most important hubs ever written...Wow Linda...


anahita-mahdi profile image

anahita-mahdi 3 years ago from Toronto

Beautiful piece :) Thank you so much for writing it. As a caregiver, sometimes I struggle with guilt whenever I want to do something for myself. It has taken a long time but I've finally realised I can't put my life on hold because my father has terminal cancer. I call it the airplane rule: in the event of an emergency, caregivers are supposed to put their own oxygen masks on first before assisting anyone else. In day-to-day life, caregivers must remember to put on their 'oxygen masks' too! As you said, we're useless to our loved ones if we are sick or dead!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Billie ~ Laurinzo ~ Anahita ... Thank you for sharing your journey, thoughts and comments. They are appreciated, as are you.


lovedoctor926 3 years ago

A nice piece from the heart. You have done a wonderful job raising awareness. I would offer to assist with housework chores, grocery shopping or other errands.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 2 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Thank you LoveDoc for offering to assist others.


mary615 profile image

mary615 2 years ago from Florida

I salute you and all the caregivers of the world! It takes a special kind of person to be a caregiver. I've never had to deal with this, but I would hope I would be as caring and loving as you.

Voted UP, etc.etc.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 2 years ago from Orlando, FL Author

Mary...You would be an amazing caregiver, but I hope you never need to be. Thank you for your support for Cap and I.

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