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by The Nikituks   |   December 11, 2018

Tips for Caregivers Over the Holidays

As the holidays approach, many of us feel the extra pressure of being caregivers for a husband, father etc. with prostate cancer. You are not alone! I had been there 12 years ago and know only too well the cost of the caregiver not paying attention to our own concerns, health, or other. Having friends and family to share with and ask for help can make this all a bit easier. Other caregivers, past and present, are especially understanding of your experience – reach out to them. It is good for your sanity!

Fortunately, we have so many resources at our fingertips these days. Go online check out zerocancer.org as well as other Facebook chat groups and other prostate cancer websites. Knowledge is power and seeing others’ stories and choices going forward can be so helpful. It was for our family!

Listen to your loved one.
Take his cues! There may be days he wants to talk and share and days he does not want to be reminded that he has prostate cancer. His energy levels also may indicate to you what he might want to do or take on in any given day. An open ear and heart determine his needs here. Then again there will be days when YOU are so utterly frustrated with him. And that’s OK too. Be easy on yourself.

Seek out a close friend or family member that you can open up your heart to.
A sounding board for you. Perhaps someone who has had a similar experience as yours. This will help give you the strength to move forward – you cannot do this alone. My greatest strength came from my daughters and close friends who helped boost me up as I struggled through these difficult times.

Go to every appointment.
I always took notes wherever we went. Let me tell you, this helped so much in our talks together after an appointment. Sometimes we remember things differently from each other or want it to be different than what we’ve heard and what was actually said. Sometimes for a very good reason. Notes and the written word can help you maneuver through these moments.

Ask for help.
If you’re like me, you might like to do everything yourself – but sometimes we need to enlist the help of others for tasks from small to large. Remember you can’t do it ALL and no one expects you to! People want to help, so let them.

Be kind to yourself.
Easier said than done, I know. Your loved one may also need some help! Check with him. I remember the day we were installing a new sink, something Paul had done in the past. He asked me to call our plumber for this task as he did not have the energy plus was working full time, something he did until the week he died. Oblige him whatever he needs as he now knows his NEW limits.

Take some time for yourself to refresh, renew, and refuel.
No one can run on empty. As difficult as this may sound, think about your future. At some point you may be without your loved one. Address the things that matter to you both, that will give ease to you both if your journey together is nearing an end that you never foresaw or ever hoped would happen. Somethings will get done – others may not.

Gather your strength, know that YOU will survive, that life is still good.
Surround yourselves with the love of others! We are stronger than we could ever imagine and though the life we are dealt may not be what we had planned, WE CAN DO IT!
All the love and good memories will always be there.

Above all take care of your own health.
You need to be strong at times a rock, a pillar for this man you love so much. It is so easy to let our own health slide as you are consumed with your loved one. I speak from experience while I tried to create the perfect last Christmas for Paul while letting a back problem that arose that last month slide. All is well, thankfully. But is is so easy to ignore our own signals while we are so focused on someone else.

You are not on an easy journey, regardless of the stage you are in, but you are never alone! Reach out to me, anyone at ZERO, your friends, and family. We are all a family together pulling for each other! I’m hoping for cures, and new treatments and drugs for our men to afford them long lives. For continued new research, education, and early testing to attack this disease before it takes its hold on those we love!