A To-Do List for Caregivers of Patients With Cancer

A cancer survivor shares five ways that caregivers can provide support.

For caregivers of patients with cancer, the road is never smooth or straight. It’s often a bumpy ride trying to find out what your loved one needs from you. But there are important roles you can play during the cancer journey. Here’s a handy to-do list for you. Please take note!

1. Be Their Sounding Board. At first, that special someone may go completely silent. But when they open up, be prepared for a flood of tears. Your patient listening will bring welcome relief to the one living with cancer. Finally, they have someone who truly understands! Bring Kleenex.

2. Be Their Rescuer. A tape recorder is playing nonstop in the mind of the cancer survivor, especially ones with a fresh diagnosis. They vividly recall the days they were biopsied and diagnosed and awaited the results of such critical tests as CT and bone scans.You can help divert their attention to more pleasant things, such as a short hike, stop for coffee or a museum visit. Get them out of the house!

3. Be Their Go-To Angel. During this stressful time, patients with cancer often find doing the simplest tasks terribly burdensome. Offer to fill out online questionnaires for doctors’ appointments. Be their stand-in on calls to straighten out thorny insurance matters. Help them compose questions for providers and go with them on appointment day, if pandemic protocols allow it. Make routine assignments your specialty.

4. Bring Comfort. Find things that will bring a smile to the face of your precious one. Nothing too elaborate here – just things like a crockpot full of their favorite soup, a comfort pillow or blanket or perhaps something that you have lovingly crocheted. Or, maybe a book chock-full of inspirational quotes. These are treasures for the soul.

5. Be Their Voice. Cancer suffocates and stifles the one living with it and the exhaustion robs them of a strong voice in everyday things. As a compassionate caregiver, you may find yourself fielding inquiries from well-meaning friends and relatives asking for updates on treatments and what’s next on the cancer journey. You could serve as a buffer zone, designated to respond to phone calls and social media messages. Be the link to the cancer patient’s inner circle.

So, you see, those who are deeply concerned with a loved one going through cancer never need to be shut out. Instead, there is so much loving attention to be spread around. Your to-do list will likely keep you very busy and in the loop.

Happy are those full of good will and an unwavering commitment to the patient with cancer. You are the true heroes on this remarkable journey!

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