Posted on: 22 January 2019Share
Despite many advancements in medical science, cancer is still the biggest health issue in Australia. Around 138,000 people are diagnosed with this awful disease every year, and it's one of the leading causes of death. Even when cancer isn't terminal, treatment and the battle to survive it can be a long, tough and exhausting struggle for many people.
As well as being a difficult road for the sufferer, cancer is also an intensely challenging time for the person who cares for them. If your loved one has just been diagnosed with cancer and you're going to be the principal carer, then you may be unprepared for the roller coaster that you're about to ride.
As a carer, it's easy to put your own needs into a secondary position as you provide both physical and emotional support to your loved one. However, it's incredibly important to look after yourself as well during the treatment and healing process. Here are two ways that you can maintain your own health and well-being while caring for a loved one with cancer.
1. Utilise respite care
Caring for a loved one with cancer is a relentless and round-the-clock role. Even when you're doing it from a place of love, this relentlessness can be exhausting both physically and mentally. For this reason, it's important to utilise any and all options of respite care that are available to you. There are many government bodies and support groups who provide respite care for little or no cost.
There are a number of different types of respite care. You can have helpers that come to your home each day for a set number of hours, giving you time to do chores, attend appointments or just get out of the house for a while. Your loved one can also have a short stay at a respite centre, where they'll be well cared for while you have a break.
2. Accept offers of help
It's quite normal as a carer to want to do everything yourself and not burden others. However, it's vital that you don't try to be a superhero and risk running yourself ragged and risking your own health. As your family, friends and community rally around you and your loved one, take them up on their offers of help.
Many people feel useless and lost when someone they care about is going through a battle with cancer. Providing you and your loved one with support is a way that they can feel like they're helping and not sitting idly by. When people offer help, accept it, and provide them with a specific way they can do it. This can be cooking a meal, running an errand or simply spending some time with you and your loved one when you're housebound.