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It all comes in waves

As caregivers are expected to deal with the ups and downs of their loved one's journey, it is easy to get sucked into the flow and neglect yourself in the process. Taking care of yourself is important for keeping your head above water, even in the toughest times.

Feeling unprepared. Most people are thrown into the role of caregiving for a loved one with cancer very quickly, with little or no preparation or training. Allow yourself to feel scared and frustrated.
Feelings. You may notice that your emotions mirror those of your loved one’s, your feelings are valid. Many people talk about the ‘roller coaster’ of emotions- sometimes you’ll feel down and defeated, other times you’ll have hope and are able to celebrate. It may be beneficial to talk with a mental health professional to help you cope with your emotions.
Self-care. Participate in activities that make you feel good such as exercise, talking about your feelings with a trusted friend, or attending to your own goals to help the rollercoaster feel smoother and less terrifying.
Loss and grief. Cancer is a master at creating symbolic loss in people’s lives- loss of dreams, roles, abilities, etc. Allow yourself to feel upset about what cancer has taken from you or your loved one. In order to adapt to loss and grief we first have to acknowledge it with honesty. Seek out peer or professional support when the grief is overwhelming
Lean on others. There are certain times during your loved one’s cancer ‘journey’ when you may feel even more stressed. Those times include initial diagnosis, onset of side effects, recurrence, end of treatment, and end of life. Expect that you will need a little more support during these times.
Manage the uncertainty. When we’re uncertain it’s common to dwell on the ‘worst case scenario’ about things out of our control. Instead, acknowledge when your worry is getting the best of you and find ways to distract yourself, stay in the present moment through meditation, and express your gratitude even for the little things.
Rise up to the challenge. Sometimes caregivers take on roles that their loved one was responsible for before diagnosis. These responsibilities may now be on your shoulders to either take care of or delegate to others.
More than just a caregiver. Being a caregiver can feel like being a nurse, parent, or a maid. It’s normal to miss just being the spouse or child. Find time to carve out quality time that reminds you of all that you are.

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