Carers are essentially anyone who helps someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. They can be friends or family, including parents, spouses, aunts, uncles and children.
While being a carer can be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding things you can do, it also has it’s own unique set of challenges.
It can be difficult to see firsthand the effect that the cancer and treatment can have on someone you care about. Often the carer faces the same fear and concerns about the diagnoses, treatment or the persons wellbeing, but are not sure what they can and can’t say because they don’t want to upset others. Open communication is important and if the carer is unable to talk to the person diagnosed, they need to find someone else to talk to i.e., other family members, friends, face to face or online support services.
The carer can also end up spending a lot of time ‘doing’ things for others, but not really ‘being’ with them. The chores and tasks that come with being a carer can take over and you end up spending little quality time with the person you are caring for. This can be especially difficult if the person you are caring for is nearing the end of their journey. If possible try to spread the load between carers, or bring in paid carers, to allow you time to just sit and ‘be’ with the person diagnosed.
Caring for a parent diagnosed with cancer also has its positives and negatives. While being able to help a parent may give the child a sense of purpose and allow them to be part of the process, it can take it’s toll. Giving a child or young adult too much responsibility before their time, forcing them to grow up too quickly can have a lasting consequences. How much information about the diagnoses, treatment etc that is shared with a child carer needs to be carefully considered and decisions should be based on the child’s age, and maturity level. Ensuring that everyone has adequate support and access to mental health professionals can be so important during this time.
A carers attention can become so focused on caring for others, that they forget to care for themselves. Or, when facing a loved ones cancer diagnoses, taking time out to look after themselves may seem a little selfish. But in order for carers to be able to continue looking after someone, self-care is extremely important. Here are some really useful tips that can help a carer look after themselves.Avoiding carer burnout - Lung Foundation Australia.
At Pink Finss we understand the support for carers is vital and we would love to hear from you if you are the one caring for a loved one. There is also a range of support and free services that you can access via the Carers Gateway https://www.carergateway.gov.au/services-and-support and Home - Carer Help.
If you are caring for a loved one who is in palliative care then there is a designated organisation that offers advice specifically to help navigate the end of the life process. They have some amazing resources and a telephone support line that can assist you. Violet