Nothing is worse than hearing that someone you love has cancer. It’s even harder when it’s your parent. As children, we typically see our parents as strong and invincible. When they get sick, it’s tough. Your roles may reverse, and you may have to start caring for your parent as they battle this disease.
While it’s easy to be overwhelmed and frightened by the thought of cancer, there’s a lot you can do to not only help your parent, but help yourself through the process too.
Treat Them to Luxuries
Helping your parent may be as easy as offering a good foot or back massage. Whether it’s done by you or a licensed therapist is up to you. If your mother is the one battling cancer, give her a manicure or pedicure. These small luxuries, and the time you spend together, will be something you and your parent come to cherish.
Going back and forth from the hospital constantly can be hard…and time consuming. Rather than spending money on petrol, hire a home care assistant. They can take vital signs, and perform other medical needs in the comfort of your parent’s home. (No hospital room required.)
Be a Great Note-taker
The thought of cancer can be overwhelming and every doctor’s meeting can feel like information overload. “Often the patient is unable to retain much of the meeting,” explains Deborah Smith, Senior Vice President for Health Initiatives at the American Cancer Society, New England Division. She suggests designating one person to attend doctor appointments with the patient.
Be sure to write down notes about the doctor’s plan, goals and next steps. Also include specifics like when they should take medication and problems they may encounter. You can also report to the doctor any side effects they are having.
Be Patient with Siblings
You and your brothers and sisters are all very different and you will each cope with the cancer diagnosis and its effects in different ways. Some may keep emotions locked away internally; others will need ways to let emotions out. Rather than cause additional stress on your parent by constantly fighting with your siblings, try to be as patient as possible. Lean on your siblings during this time and let them lean on you, so that you can all better support your parent.
Hire a Home Care Assistant
When you’re sick, it’s easy to get stressed worrying about everything that you have to do, but that your body won’t let you do. Imagine how your parent feels. Let them get the rest and relaxation they need and help out by cleaning the house, doing laundry, buying groceries, etc. If you aren’t able to stop by on a regular basis, contact TruCare to place a housekeeper to make a daily, weekly, or even monthly visit. Getting these small tasks completed for your parent will allow them to recuperate without the worry.
Give Them a Distraction
Surgery recovery and chemo treatments can create a lot of idle time. Purchase a portable DVD player or an iPod to help your parent pass the time. Pick out movies or put together a playlist you think they would enjoy. If they are far away, record videos from your children, your siblings and yourself cheering them on during their fight. And if you are visiting during this time, try starting a new hobby together, such as knitting or card playing.
Create a Good Support System for You
And while you’re caring for your parent and family, don’t forget to care of yourself! Surround yourself with friends who will take your calls and don’t mind a night in, as opposed to a fun night out. Allow yourself to cry and let your emotions out. Realize that you don’t have to get back to every email and text message. You have a lot going on right now and people know that. You get a guilt-free pass.
It’s important to get the care you need so you in turn can help your parent. “Learn what steps to take for your own physical health and emotion well-being,” – “Taking care of yourself can make a big difference in the way you feel about your role as a caregiver and in your ability to perform these new tasks and activities.”