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Kathy LaTour is a breast cancer survivor, author of The Breast Cancer Companion and co-founder of CURE magazine. While cancer did not take her life, she has given it willingly to educate, empower and enlighten the newly diagnosed and those who care for them.
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Cancer Caregivers

In the past 30 years or so, there has been a transition in this country for those diagnosed with cancer. Not very long ago, a diagnosis of cancer meant being admitted to the hospital to wait out the final days in a haze of morphine.
PUBLISHED: JANUARY 09, 2017
Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the General Discussions CURE discussion group.
In the past 30 years or so, there has been a transition in this country for those diagnosed with cancer. Not very long ago, a diagnosis of cancer meant being admitted to the hospital to wait out the final days in a haze of morphine.

Part of this transition came with the new drugs that went about killing rapidly dividing cells, the cause of vomiting, hair loss and general feelings of the flu 24/7. The new drugs have been better in some cases and worse in others, but what we know is that cancer is no longer the automatic death sentence it was in the 50s and 60s. 

Today patients are being diagnosed earlier — early enough to live long lives after treatment that is given outpatient, allowing the patients to go home to be cared for by . . .  and this is the tricky part. By whom?

Most often, the care comes from family, husbands for wives, wives for husbands, parents or children. It has put tremendous pressure on our families to serve as quasi medical experts in our care. It is often a frightening prospect for them and brings them right into the cancer experience with us in many ways. For those caregivers who must also work full time, the pressure can be overwhelming. And the emotional impact, particularly for spouses, can result in lingering fear of recurrence that is actually worse than the patients.

Today, a cancer diagnosis means that the whole family has cancer.

With today’s families spread out across states and regions and even continents, it has become more important than ever for those in need to reach out. The message here is that patients need to reach out and get support from friends to either help family caregivers or be the caregivers.

In more and more instances, there will be a nurse who will help in identifying and training those who will change bandages, strip drains, mash pills, keep track of when and how much someone gets of different drugs, or even picks up drugs to be sure the patient gets all of the prescriptions needed. It may sound trivial to talk about picking up drugs for someone unless you have stood in line waiting for a prescription to be filled when the fatigue you are experiencing makes it hard to even stand.



Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the General Discussions CURE discussion group.
 
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