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Chemo-Savvy: A CML Patient's Top 5 Caregiver Tips

I’ve been a leukemia patient since 2011 and it isn’t always easy to navigate this disease. It can be painful, disturbing, and confusing even on my best days. I think my fellow blood cancer patients can relate.

Caregivers are a blessing

Sometimes, when we are in deep pain, discomfort, confusion, and a deteriorating quality of life, it’s very challenging to be a good problem solver. There are so many layers of change in the body that we have a really hard time keeping up with the symptoms and the side effects. Having someone close to us who can help us navigate this disease is a true blessing.

While we are mired in what feels like quicksand we need a hand to pull us up sometimes. If someone you love is a blood cancer patient, I’ve written this for you.

Very helpful caregiver tasks

Here are my top five ways to be a Chemo-Savvy partner, loved one, caregiver, friend… Drumroll please… Let's go…

  • #5: Help keep a calendar. Appointments/tests/procedures are all very important. Keeping a calendar is incredibly helpful. On this calendar you can include where the tests/appointments/procedures are, how to get there and safely home again, any preparations that need to be made or care needed after, what to do when the test is over, and how to celebrate that.
  • #4: Help keep a journal. Make notes of what the doctor says, any advice your loved one needs to follow, where to get and how to use prescribed medication, what to watch out for and when it is necessary to alert your doctor should something go wrong.
  • #3: Help Keep a medication schedule. Medication times can be put on a calendar, on a phone with alerts, arranged in pill boxes or the pharmacist can bubble pack them. Whatever works best for your loved one to take medication properly is the best way to help them. Try different things until a medication routine is established. Extra help might be needed during any medication change. It’s always good to know that help is near when we get confused.
  • #2: Help keep a stocked fridge of favorite foods. Eating during treatment is not always easy, but it is always necessary. I don’t think that there is any particular diet that works well for all of us. Sometimes our taste buds disappear and texture becomes important. Think soup, stews, puddings, milkshakes. Sometimes our taste buds are sturdy and we’ll grab hot buffalo wings and garlic bread! True story! Whatever the situation is making food edible is where a hand up can really be appreciated.
  • #1: Help keep the relationship alive by taking good care of yourself too. Caregiver exhaustion is a real thing. The better we take care of ourselves, the better we can take care of each other. So, find the time to have fun, have a break, have an adventure, make a memory and enjoy each other's company. because when we love each other that’s what we do.

Getting by with a little help

I truly believe this disease can be managed, can be brought to heel, can be tamed and with a little help we can enjoy the good times with the ones we love.

Do you have some chemo-savvy tips and tricks that you find really helpful as a caregiver? I’d love to hear about them below. Thanks so much for reading.

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