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 with Social Networks
- Cancer Teamwork With Social Networks
Definition of Teamwork: Work done by several associates with each doing a part, but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole. No matter what cause you advocate getting the job done as a team is more beneficial.
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.
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© 2012 Linda Bilyeu
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