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Becoming a caregiver to a cancer patient can be tough, but help is available

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Posted at 11:15 AM, Jul 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 14:00:14-04

Editor's note: This article is the part of a monthly series of stories focused on cancer issues. Denver7 is proud to partner with the American Cancer Society, Cancer Support Community, Colorado Cancer Coalition and Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HealthONE to bring you these stories, tips and resources.

Each year, over 27,000 Coloradans are diagnosed with cancer—and we know they won’t go through that experience alone because there will be a caregiver, usually a family member or close friend, at their side. Becoming a caregiver is often unexpected and life changing. A caregiver is someone who provides physical and emotional support to the person who has cancer. They may also serve as a lifeline for the person they are taking care of.

Caregivers can support their loved one by working to understand their cancer diagnosis and treatment by working with the patient’s cancer care team. The American Cancer Society also provides information on cancer through their website at cancer.org.

It’s important for caregivers to take care of themselves so they can provide reliable support to their loved one during the cancer journey. Being a caregiver can be challenging, so caregivers should look for options to help reduce stress and relax, including exercising, eating healthy, getting support from family and friends and planning for fun activities. Caregivers can also seek professional help if they feel they need it.

Caregivers, as well as other friends and family members, can also support a cancer patient by listening to them and being there for support. The discussion board at MyLifeline can be used to connect caregivers to others who have had the same experiences. If you or a loved one has cancer, you can also share your story and make your voice heard by joining the Colorado Cancer Experience Registry, an online research study designed by the Cancer Support Community.

The American Cancer Society has a Caregiver Support Video Series, which provides educational support for caregivers as they take care of their loved one through their cancer journey.

You can also learn more about being a caregiver through the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute’s askSARAH helpline. Specially trained nurses are available 24/7, and all calls are confidential. Contact askSARAH at 303-253-3225 or chat online at askSARAHnow.