If you or a loved one have recently been diagnosed with cancer, the term 'caregiver' will soon be thrust upon you. But what exactly is a caregiver?
Here at CQ, we define a caregiver as anyone (friends or family) who will be closely involved in any aspect of cancer as it pertains to the patient. Therefore, we will often use the word caregiver in a manner synonymous with family or friend.
Some caregivers might attend doctors appointments, some might help administer medicine, some with exercise, and others with overall care & wellbeing. If you are fortunate enough to have a support group / family who are able to aid you in your fight, it's important to get organized. If you would like to request support, there are resources and we can help.
Our 'Caregiver' resources help you get organized, understand your role as a caregiver, and ensure you & fellow caregivers are taking care of yourselves in order to provide the level of care necessary.
Becoming a Caregiver.
We put together our own brief Cancer Q overview on what it means to become a caregiver. This article provides important steps on getting organized with tangible action items - things you can do now to help you down the road. It also helps you (as a family member or friend) understand how to navigate the outpouring of support from friends and family. We help you understand what to do when everyone starts to tell you, "Please let me know what I can do to help."
Caregiver Support Networks
There are many wonderful non-profit organizations and Foundations that are tackling specific cancers. For example, Susan G Komen (breast cancer) and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan) (pancreatic cancer) are two amazing organizations that are leading the charge in research, fundraising, support, & in finding cures.
Many of these organizations offer support networks for caregivers and patients alike.
These are extremely valuable and useful resources. We highly encourage you to find an organization that has a support network for your particular type of cancer. If you need some assistance, contact us.
These caregiver / support networks can help answer questions, help you understand treatments, provide information on clinical trials and even help connect you to other caregivers who are caring for a loved one with the same diagnosis.
Most require entering a bit of personal information so they can better serve and connect you to the right people and resources. We @CQ will be continually researching and adding similar services as well as detailed information on specific cancer types.
Help with Food & Meals.
As a caregiver food, nutrition, and meals will play an extremely important role in the patients fight. While it's important for your loved one, the patient, it's also important for caregivers to get help organizing meals - many friends and family may offer to cook, pick up dinner, bring over food. If not careful, it can be overwhelming. Meals can also be a great way for family and friends to help. Many might be unsure what to do, and food provides one outlet. However, with cancer & aggressive treatments comes a lot of dietary restrictions - to keep in mind.
But thankfully there are a few tools out there that can help you & your friends get organized and get the right food when you need it most.
'The Hippo Kitchen' is a site that lets you order pre-made healthy & organic meals online to be delivered. Some important keys: 1) Their menu has tips for which meals help with nutritional issues and it lets you search by symptom (Ex: this meal is helpful for weight gain, or this meal is helpful for constipation) 2) Anyone can go online and order you a meal or add money to your online 'bank' so that you can purchase meals at a later time
*Note this company is only in Houston, Texas. But it's a great concept and we strongly encourage you to find a similar service in your city, if possible.
Send us your recommendations or similar companies.
Another resource is 'Take them a Meal." It allows you to schedule meals and delivery so that others can search and know when / when not to have a meal delivered, learn about any food allergies or special dietary needs, and what might be a good dish to prepare for you.
Finally, we contacted our local healthy grocery store, Central Market in Texas, who had an on site catering service. When we told them our mom was fighting cancer, the catering team set up an account in her name. Anyone could call in and donate to the account or place a food order. It allowed us to call in a head of time to order prepared meals or groceries before coming to pick up. They even delivered it to us personally on many occasions. We @CQ encourage you to contact a local grocery store to see if this is an option - one with a catering service might be necessary.
Reading & Research = Preparedness.
There are a lot of caregiver resources available online. We are sure you have noticed by now.
Hopefully you found the above resources and our summary helpful. But we can't stress enough the importance of finding the time to read, research, prepare, and delegate. It will help you immensely.
Lastly, we include a link to Dana-Farber Cancer Institutes online caregivers resources page. Dana-Farber is one of the leading US cancer institutions, located in Boston and affiliated with Harvard. Their site provides many additional resources and further reading. Take a few minutes to explore these resources.
Access the wheel, save, and connect with all resources listed on our site (and more) by creating your CQ Dashboard personal account. Your personal Dashboard account allows you to create notes, save links, access the latest research, and connect with others who have similar experience.
* Disclaimer: We are in no way affiliated with the organizations, companies, and authors whose products we promote on our site. It is our job to remain neutral and objective, only recommending resources that have been vetted and selected by our community, experts, and/or through first-hand experiences.