When a loved one is battling cancer, oftentimes their caregiver experiences some unexpected effects as well. Exhaustion, commonly linked to stress, can mean being more susceptible to sickness, losing sleep, irritability, withdrawal and depression. And these are just some of the symptoms that accompany the demands of daily tasks like transporting a friend or family member to and from appointments, sitting with them during treatments, assisting them in their home or supporting them in other areas. Amy Solaro-Geraghty, MSW, LCSW, oncology social work specialist II, Parkview Cancer Institute, reminds us that self-care is just as crucial as care for a sick loved one.
Unfortunately, you cannot stop an illness from happening to someone you love, but you can take responsibility for your personal well-being to ensure you continue to meet your own needs. You can control how well you take care of yourself. When someone you care about is sick, it’s natural to feel angry, frustrated, exhausted, alone or sad. But it’s also OK to put yourself first. You need a healthy mind, body and soul to take on the role of caregiver.
A few minutes alone to regroup and an extra set of hands to pitch in can make a world of difference for your well-being. Remember the work you are doing is hard. It can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining, but you are making a difference in the life of someone you love. Don’t give up. Take care of yourself.