By SHARE Caregiver Circle - December 10, 2013
Caregivers are an essential part of the health care landscape, providing crucial support to loved ones with cancer. However, being a caregiver can also be overwhelming; it can be emotionally, physically, and mentally draining. At SHARE we know that one of the most powerful tools caregivers can access is the support of other caregivers who can share their knowledge, skills, and experience in a way that is uniquely affirming and effective.
On November 7, SHARE hosted a panel discussion and support group for caregivers. Panelists included Beth Taubes, RN, OCN, Clinical Manager of The Women's Oncology & Wellness Practice in NYC and two caregivers who spoke about the challenges they face and the strategies they use to support their loved ones.
Each participant had so much valuable and insightful information to share. Beth has over 30 years' experience working with cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers. Her number one message to caregivers is to get help from the people around you. She says, "Identify the important people in your life, and figure out how they can help you. In order to help someone else you have to be healthy."
Another participant has been her older sister's primary caregiver for the 18 months since her diagnosis. She also stressed the importance of support groups, saying that SHARE has shown her that she does not have to go through the experience alone, and that there are people that she can relate to; this helps her maintain balance in her life and define her own needs and concerns. She also shared one of her favorite strategies to deal with stress: the feeling box. She lists out the emotions she is feeling and puts them into this box. This allows her to have her fears right in front of her, rather than keeping them inside. She advises all caregivers to do some version of this to become aware of their emotions and increase their well-being.
Our third panelist stressed the importance of openness, honesty, and living in the moment. His wife's cancer was in remission and then came back. He spoke candidly about how there are good days and bad, and how it is so important to really be there so as not to miss those good times. One of those simple, yet profound truths that we so often forget when we are on our own, and overwhelmed.
These are just a few of the words of wisdom shared at SHARE's most recent discussion. If you or anyone you know is a caregiver, we hope that you will take advantage of the groups and other forms of support that SHARE has to offer—so that you can build the strength you need to care for yourself and the people that you love.
Stay tuned for a video of this enlightening panel discussion!
Learn more about the SHARE caregiver support group.