Caring for your loved one
There are many types of support that you can provide to someone living with MBC. These might include navigating insurance issues, filing paperwork, keeping health care teams informed, providing food or transportation, or lending emotional support. No matter what type of care you give, you play a very important role.
When caring for someone with MBC, you may hear them mention symptoms or side effects. Encourage your loved one to write this information down and report it to their health care team. Sometimes, patients living with MBC may not fully communicate the symptoms of their cancer or the side effects of their treatment to their doctor or health care teams. They may be afraid to sound like they are complaining, or they may simply forget. Better communication can help facilitate better care and support.
Preparing your loved one for a doctor visit
Doctor’s appointments can be stressful—there is a lot to remember, and there can be many tests to go through. But there are things you can do to help you and your loved one make the most of these visits and reduce stress.
Help your loved one relax and alleviate some of the stress that visiting the doctor can bring. Bring a magazine or a book to help pass the time in the waiting room before their appointment. If it’s cold in the office, it might be a good idea to bring a sweater or blanket, too.
Bring any notes about symptoms or side effects that your loved one has experienced since the last visit. You can use a journal or electronic tablet to keep these all in one place for easy access. You can also use the journal or electronic tablet to take notes during the appointment. That way, you and your loved one can go back and review them if you forget something later.
You can help your loved one advocate for themselves and their treatment by encouraging them to ask questions. And if you have a question or want clarification, don’t hesitate to speak up, either. At the end of the day, more information can mean better-informed decisions.
Caring for yourself
One of the most important things to remember as a caregiver is to take care of your own needs as well as those of your loved one. By taking care of your own emotional and physical well-being, you will be more able to help your loved one and to be prepared for any challenges that you may encounter. Whether it is through meditation, an exercise class, or focusing on a hobby, it is important to help yourself recharge.
Caregiving is not always easy, and at times, you may feel sad, angry, or alone. Connecting with others can be very helpful during these times. Additionally, it may be beneficial to seek out support from groups, friends, other caregivers, or a social worker. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Remember, you don’t have to do it all alone. Whether you need help with household chores, driving your loved one to an appointment, or running an errand, there are people who can help. By reaching out to other family members or friends, or even the health care team, you can help reduce any stress you may be feeling—and ultimately help yourself take better care of your loved one.
The more knowledge you are able to gain, the more you may know what to expect when helping your loved one navigate their treatment journey. MBCInfoCenter℠ provides a list of resources that can help you find information and support as someone caring for someone with MBC.