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Caregiving and Cancer

Caregivers play an integral role in their cancer patient or loved one’s journey. They are the soldiers fighting behind the scenes for their patients or loved ones.

We salute your commitment and determination to care, regardless of what may be required of you, and we want you to know that we are here for you, because you need support too.

We know that most Caregivers don’t choose this role, but it is one that is suddenly thrown upon their shoulders when a family member, loved one or colleague is diagnosed with cancer and urgently needs support and care. No first-time caregiver knows what to do, as no journey with cancer is the same and there are no rules and regulations to follow, however CANSA is able to offer knowledge, information, support and encouragement whenever required.

At times compassion fatigue sets in where the Caregiver no longer cares for themselves. Known as ‘Caregiver Burnout’, this condition is the culmination of stress, emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and low self-esteem. It is essential that this is dealt with sooner rather than later.

Top Tips for Caregivers:

  • Find support and talk to others who are in a similar situation. This can help you cope with common feelings of anger, guilt, isolation, fear, sadness, or anticipatory grief.
  • Know when you are stressed and learn the signs of your stress that may include feeling exhausted, getting sick more often, sleeplessness, impatience, irritability and forgetfulness.
  • Take time out and make time for yourself and others. Although a person with cancer has many needs that require your attention, just remember you do too, so spend time doing something you enjoy, with the people you love.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Be kind and patient with yourself and remember it’s normal to experience occasional bouts of anger or frustration, along with the guilt of having those feelings. Search for a positive way to deal with these feelings.
  • Take care of yourself. Make time to exercise, eat healthy foods, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep.
  • Stay positive. Having an optimistic attitude helps set the tone for everything you do and take on.

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Fact Sheet

We recognise that Caregiving is very stressful, and we have created a Facebook Support Group CANSA Caring for the Caregivers to enable Caregivers to meet with others in a similar position and to share caregiving tips / advice and caregiving highs and lows. There are also online resources which Caregivers may share with their loved one or patient.

Dominique Forbes-Rose (Caregiver) says of caregiving, “In many ways it is a very lonely journey. It is just as traumatising for the carer, as for the cancer patient. You give so much of yourself to look after your loved one, you have no time to look after yourself. And with that, you don’t want to worry the patient about everything that you are taking care of behind the scenes, because they need to focus on getting healthy. It is probably the toughest mental wellness journey you can ever go through, and you need a support network to help you. I am so grateful that CANSA has a platform of support for us carers – it is so important to get that support.”

CANSA also offers support through counselling and training on how to support a patients. You can also enquire about our community home based care, CANSA Care Homes for patients receiving treatment far from home and CANSA Care Rooms providing respite care. We can also assist your loved one or patient with dietary tips; stoma care and affordable quality products; advice regarding lymphoedema management; breast prostheses and bras; adult incontinence wear, wigs (natural or synthetic); medical equipment hire and assistive devices.

Contact your local CANSA Care Centre for more information.

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