A woman walking on a tightrope away from a thumbs down and towards a thumbs up

Keeping It Positive as a Caregiver

Getting cancer is horrible. Hearing those words for the first time is devastating and, for a second, your world stops spinning. But then you come back to reality and have to figure out what your next steps will be. Having support from a loved one can be a wonderful thing and many times is necessary. But being a caregiver can be a tough job.

A caregiver’s role

A caregiver’s role can consist of many things. For example, they may help with the organization of appointments, be the driver, cook, clean, or just listen. Being a caregiver in any way can be a tough job, but it is one of the most important things you can do to help someone you care about. Many times, the patient is not in any shape to listen to the doctor during visits or even drive themselves there. Coming home and having to cook can be impossible for them in some cases. Helping out allows them to gain their strength. Even something as simple as changing the sheets or making the bed can help someone to feel a little better. All of these things are extremely thoughtful and appreciated.

Caregiving can be rewarding and exhausting

Helping my daughter, Crystal, was usually easy after she was diagnosed with blood cancer at age 25. She is a smart and positive young lady. I truly believe having a good attitude and staying positive is the first key in beating this disease. Of course, you have to take care of your body and listen to what your doctor has to say, but you must help yourself in whatever way you can. Crystal tried to do all of this and, luckily, she is doing well.

Not everyone has her positive attitude

I am currently helping my sister-in-law who is also facing cancer. She is a bit tougher. My sister in law has early-stage cancer which, hopefully, should be able to be healed. Like we all were, she is terrified. I definitely understand that feeling, but she is letting it take over. I don’t think her continued negative reaction is healthy.

Trying to help her get through this has been emotionally taxing for me. No matter how encouraging I try to be, she can only see the worst possible outcome. We all know that stress is bad for cancer and emotional health, but she can't seem to stop. I want to help, but it's been a bit frustrating. I don’t know what to say and just listening is hard. I feel as though I should continue to be there for her, but it’s so draining.

Taking care of ourselves

Sometimes being a caregiver, even if it's just for emotional support, is hard on us. We have to be sure to take a little time for us. After speaking to my sister-in-law, I usually go for a walk. I have to get rid of the stress our conversations cause me. While helping my daughter Crystal was difficult - watching your child go through cancer is always a challenge - she made it easier because of who she is and her positive attitude.

The need to vent

Everyone needs to vent when they are going through something rough - like cancer. We are all scared and worried about what the future will hold for us. But in my mind, I think we need to develop a positive, kick a$$ attitude to beat this and live the best quality of life we can. Caregivers have to have strong, positive, attitudes too. This is a bit of a tightrope walk, too. Sometimes you just need to listen and not say anything. This is important when helping others we care about. The other important thing is that we need to keep ourselves strong both emotionally and physically. Don’t forget to take a little time out for yourself. It will help you and ultimately help your loved one, too!

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