Cancer can strike anyone, anytime, and depending on the diagnosis it can require anything from a simple procedure to full-time caregiver support. One of the greatest challenges of becoming a caregiver for a loved one suffering the effects of cancer is the breadth of physical and mental complications that must be managed.
An early-stage diagnosis for breast cancer, for instance, is highly curable and has a very low recurrence rate. Caregiving may be limited to the comfort and support you would give anyone going through a health crisis, and possibly some post-surgical logistics and mental healthcare for issues related to identity and self esteem.
However, severe cancers like mesothelioma and pancreatic cancer bring with them a wide and complex range of challenges that span everything from end-of-life planning to caregiver burnout. Caregivers may find themselves responsible for finances, navigating insurance and hospital systems, and legacy planning on top of direct caregiving duties for a suffering spouse, parent, or child.
It can be overwhelming, especially if you become a caregiver at a young age when your life is already packed with the hustle of a career and starting a family. One thing is for sure: you’re going to need help, and that’s why we’re providing you with our best cancer caregiver resources for at-home caregivers.
Everyone’s heard a lot about cancer and everyone knows that it’s bad, but when your family is confronted with a diagnosis the most stressful part can be the scope of the unknown. Cancer presents so many life-changing questions, and reactions to a diagnosis often include sadness, anger, loneliness, panic, and anxiety.
Empowerment for at-home cancer caregivers begins with knowledge and community, and there are plenty of resources to tap to help get you up to speed.
Doctors, specialists, nurses, psychologists, receptionists, and pharmaceutical staff are some of the many healthcare professionals who can provide you with valuable and specific information you need. Use them! The only stupid question in caregiving is the one you don’t ask, and they’re there to provide as much help and support as they can.
The American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is a comprehensive online resource that covers every aspect of cancer from prevention through end-of-life. They offer a diverse portfolio of resources for caregivers covering a wide range of important topics. Check it out.
Financial Assistance and Logistics
Cancer patients can require varying levels of caregiver assistance, and in many cases the support they need concerns finances and logistics. The average annualized cost for a cancer diagnosis can range from $5500 to well over $110k, and a significant portion of that can be borne by the patient. Pharmaceutical costs, deductibles, and day-to-day expenses add up fast, and unless you’re a CPA you’re going to need some help.
Grants and Support Resources
Fortunately there are many grants and financial aid programs available for caregivers, and it’s usually just a question of doing a little legwork and paperwork. The AARP offers a thorough list of caregiver assistance by state, and organizations like Live Care Foundation and ARCH National Respite Network connect caregivers with cancer caregiver resources to ease the financial burden. They can even connect you with a financial advisor to help you make the most of what you have.
Sometimes all a cancer patient or caregiver needs is a few extra minutes in the day to fit everything in, and that’s where a little hands-on assistance can make all the difference. There are many local programs that will help with the basics, like meal prep, laundry, transportation, and running errands. Churches, local government agencies and healthcare providers, and even your friends and family are big go-tos when it comes to making an impact in your daily experience.
Wading through cancer caregiver resources can be a health and wellness challenge all its own. Digging around, spending hours on hold, and filling out endless paperwork burns a caregiver’s stamina and mental energy, especially when a loved one’s care is riding on your hard work!
Finding the right community of professionals and at-home caregivers can be an incredible timesaver, as well as reduce the stress and anxiety of being solely responsible for answers when you’ve barely begun wrapping your head around all the questions.
Your caregiver community can give you fast, accurate information to make informed decisions when you need to make them, as well as offer expert advice for navigating unfamiliar and bulky systems. But perhaps most importantly, they will be able to tell you all the things most caregivers don’t see or know to look for.
Caregivers are notoriously bad at taking care of themselves, and the seasoned caregivers in your community will quickly identify the signs and symptoms of caregiver burnout when you’re interacting with them. They’ll look out for you when you’re looking out for everyone else. That’s huge.
Discovering Cancer Caregiver Resources with I-Ally
I-Ally is an online community of healthcare experts and caregivers just like you who are dedicated to supporting and empowering each other on their unique caregiving journeys. If you need advice, support, or just a friend with a strong pair of hands to pick you up and two good legs to walk with you awhile, I-Ally is your caregiver home.
Reduce stress, save time, and explore cancer caregiver resources that will make all the difference.
In solidarity: I-Ally.