Support for Caregivers
Family and friends
of ATC patients experience many emotional ups and downs and a whirlwind
of activity and emotions.
No one person can
be the patient’s sole support. Caregivers must care for themselves so
that they can support the patient.
are available for respite care, in which a volunteer can stay with a
patient for a period of time to give the caregivers a break.
For more thoughts
on support for caregivers, see the section titled ATC Caregivers’ Support.
from ThyCa's Membership Messenger Newsletter, Summer 2003: A Legacy
of Hope Lives on in Cheri Wallace Lindle and ThyCa's ATC Listserv
As far as caregiver
support is concerned—this is so important. If we are not well, we can't
think clearly and can't help our loved patient.
I have no siblings—
just me….However, I do have a support network of a Health Care Manager
I'd hired last August, plus help around Dad's house, plus friends and
cousins whom I talk to every day. I have lunch every day with Dad, but
don't always have dinner with him. I've started weekly massage and Reiki
sessions (which I highly recommend to restore your depleted energy!)
of the Caregiver
Patricia Scott, R.N., B.S., M.B.A.
at the 8th International Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Conference
October 21-23, 2005
About the author:
Patricia Scott, B.S., R.N., M.B.A., led caregivers sessions at the 6th
and 8th International Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Conferences. She started
her nursing/research career 20 years ago at the Cancer and Treatment
Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She later specialized in women's
and infants' health care at the University of Colorado Hospital, Denver,
Colorado, until her husband David was diagnosed with Anaplastic Thyroid
Cancer in March 2002. She turned her energy toward learning and researching
about thyroid cancer and became her husband's primary caregiver and
advocate, until his passing on February 28, 2003. Patricia now is on
the Golden, Colorado Chapter of the Board of the American Cancer Society;
helps with the local ThyCa support group in Denver, Colorado; and continues
to be involved as a volunteer for ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association,
Inc., supporting and helping survivors, caregivers, and families.
The word "extraordinary"
comes to my mind, to say the least, whenever I think of a caregiver.
For the most part
you inherit this position. It shows up at your doorstep, sometimes unannounced
due to a series of circumstances. Or you may freely volunteer for this
No matter how you
acquire this position, it will partially or totally change your life
Once we're placed
in this position, for most of us, it totally changes the focus of our
lives. In other words, we put our needs, wants, goals, and dreams aside,
for the needs, wants, goals, and dreams of our loved one.
You sometimes, without
even knowing it, become part of that loved one….You eat, sleep, breathe,
and feel every physical and emotional change with that person….You become
that person's advocate and put your personal needs aside.
You feel their hope
You laugh with them.
You hurt with them.
You cry with them.
You feel their fear, as you transpose it in to your own fear.
You feel their hopelessness.
You feel their painful solitude, as they helplessly wait for the results
of a scan, test, or other procedures.
You rejoice and feel the merriment when outcomes are positive.
I have observed
myself making statements such as
"The last time
we had a scan was last week."
"We need to rest now."
"We need to take our pain medication."
¨We'll be back in a minute."
Each day, long after
the loved one's physical and emotional needs have been met, the caregiver
goes on: by working on household chores, by caring for other family
members, by keeping up with the financial side, and by making the next
doctor's appointments, and more.
Through it all,
the caregiver …..continues to be the backbone for the patient, for the
family and for the thyroid cancer community.
they laugh, they bring hope to the table, they comfort each other, and
they find humor in situations where little humor is left, just to bring
a smile to a person's face.
So how can we take
care of ourselves as caregiver?
When you walk to the edge of all the light you have, and take that first
step into the darkness of the unknown…..
You must believe that one of two things will happen: There will be something
solid for you stand on, or, you will learn to fly.
(By an unknown author)
Balance in Your Life
A person once asked
me if I had balance in my life. I said, "You'll always be out of
balance, but that's okay: the important thing is you keep dodging the
We have all heard
the statement, "Stop and smell the Roses." But when we are
in crisis, we may forget nearly everything we know.
Some people are
familiar with the Serenity Prayer: "Grant me the Serenity to
accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things
I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference."
As caregivers in
this situation, it is very hard to accept the things we cannot change.
But nobody can take
our HOPE away!
Hope Is Huge!
So while you are
dodging the meteors……..and being strong for everyone around you, you
need to take time to recharge your battery, so you can be strong for
yourself, as well as for your loved one.
Examples of things
that can help reduce the stress and help clear your mind, so you can
function more effectively.
|Periods of Rest
Reading a book
Bath or shower
Soaking your feet
Sittingin a quiet area
Television or radio
Counting to ten
Group therapy sessions