Table Of Content

Note To Caregivers

Being diagnosed with cancer takes a huge toll not only on the patient's mental health but also on the family and friends. The patient's emotional and mental health weakens as cancer progresses, and it is at this time the caregivers are needed the most.

Who are cancer caregivers?

A cancer caregiver is a family member or friend who helps the cancer patient get through cancer, its treatment, recovery, and follow-up care. Sometimes, a caregiver may also be a professional hired by the patient's family or friends to care for and look after them. A caregiver has a vital role in the patient's life; anyone can become a caregiver.

Five Important Tips To Be Followed By The Caregivers

1. Communication is the key:

As a caregiver, it is essential for you to communicate. A caregiver is expected to communicate not only with the patient but also with the doctors, therapists, nurses, and other people involved in cancer care team. Hence a caregiver must have good communication skills.

2. Being organized is a must:

Caregiving can be a difficult job, and being messy will hinder daily activities. Hence, as a caregiver, it is vital to stay organized. A caregiver must take part in many aspects of a patient's life. From visiting the doctor, seeing the therapist, giving medications on time, making the patient eat, and taking care of the sleeping and other daily activity schedule, a caregiver's plate is full of work. Being organized is essential for the caregiver to get through the day. Some common practices a caregiver can follow to stay organized are,

  • Making a task list or diary,
  • Making notes in a calendar,
  • Setting reminders that can be helpful for caregivers to plan their schedules and stay organized.

3. Provide emotional support to the patient:

From the day of diagnosis to the treatment end, a cancer patient has turmoil of emotions. The medications also hinder the patient's mental health. Stress, anxiety, depression, and fear are all common emotions experienced by the patient daily. Hence, as a caregiver, monitoring the patient's mental health is essential. Some tips that the caregivers can follow to take care of the patient's mental health are,

  • Talking to the patient and listening to them
  • Making sure that the patient lives a normal life
  • Taking them for counseling

Making them do things that they enjoy and would make them happy, like playing a game of cards with them, making them listen to soothing music or motivating podcasts, reading to them, or taking them out for a walk.
These are some important things that are to be done by the caregiver to help the patient deal with their emotions, as emotional health also affects the overall health of the patient.

4. Provide support for the patient's physical wellbeing:

As a caregiver, it is essential to look after the patient's physical health. Some tips that the caregivers can follow to take care of the patient's physical health are,

  • Coordinating with the patient's cancer team
  • Giving them their medications on time,
  • Taking care of their food and sleep schedule
  • Managing their treatment side effects

5. Take care of yourself:

It is essential to look after yourself first if you are a caregiver. If you are a family member or friend of a cancer patient, you must look after your physical, mental, and emotional health. Only after you take care of yourself will you be able to look after the patient. As a caregiver, you are bound to be under stress, and hence you must eat well and take adequate rest. Apart from eating and sleeping properly, it is also necessary to take a little time out for yourself.

Ways To Maintain Your Physical and Mental Wellness As a Caregiver

  • Allot personal space for yourself: Relax yourself for 15-20 minutes by doing the things you like the most. Don’t ignore your personal life, connect with your friends. Try to do your regular activities without skipping any, which will keep you stress free.
  • Give attention to your feelings: Try to give yourself an outlet for your own feelings and thoughts which is more important. Find the ways to lift your spirits. Let others know your need.
  • Join a support group: Support groups can try to give new insights about the current happenings in your life and help with ideas to cope with it. If you can't find a support group in your location, try an online source.
  • Try to learn more about cancer: Understanding the medical condition of your loved ones can make you feel more confident. Try to know about his/her cancer stage, which makes you understand the treatment procedures and expected side effects.
  • Look for the positive: Even though it is hard in finding positive moments during care giving, it is ok to laugh even when your loved ones is under treatment. It releases your tension and keep you stress free.

If Yuvi Can, So Can You

Cancer - A word that is enough to shake the strongest of will powers. But not Yuvraj Singh. Shortly after bagging the world cup in 2011, Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh was diagnosed with a rare cancer called Mediastinal Seminoma between his heart and left lung.

Mediastinal Seminoma is a malignant tumor different from lung cancer. It is not known to spread and has a survival rate (with treatment) higher than regular lung cancer.

Sharing his story, Yuvraj Singh revealed that he ignored the initial symptoms and prioritized cricket over his health. However, very soon, he started showing severe symptoms like excessive cough, breathlessness, spitting out blood and loss of stamina.

Yuvraj underwent three intensive chemotherapy cycles in Boston and Indianapolis in 2012 and successfully defeated the germ-cell cancer.

Sharing his experience, Yuvraj said, “It’s only once I accepted cancer that I could beat it. When life knocks down you have a choice — to get up. So I thought to myself, ‘get up and do it again.”

Today, Yuvraj and his mother run a non-profit organization called YouWeCan Foundation, which aims and works toward controlling cancer in India by helping people with early detection and treatment of cancer.

Yuvraj Singh

Cancer Recovery - FAQs

1. Will cancer return after treatment?

In certain cases, the cancer might return. This is called as cancer recurrence. It is impossible to know when the cancer will reoccur. Cancer reoccurrence can happen any time after the treatment of the original cancer and this might take a few weeks to years.

2. What is follow-up care?

Once the cancer treatment ends, the patient has to go for follow up care. Follow up care involves routine medical check ups like physical examinations, blood tests and imaging scans. The follow up care is also done to monitor and examine if the cancer has reoccurred or spread to any other part of the body.

3. Can a cancer survivor live a normal life after treatment?

Once the cancer treatment is completed, the patient wants everything to go back to normal. However, it will take some time, may be months or a few years, for everything to become normal again.

4. What are the long-term side effects of cancer treatment?

There are various long-term side effects of cancer treatment, these side effects can happen after a few months or years of treatment. The long-term side effects of cancer treatment include, heart problems, lung problems, hypertension, bone and joint problems, dental problems, early menopause, loss of hearing, infertility, digestion issues, secondary cancer risk etc.

5. What does a second cancer mean?

A second cancer is a totally new cancer that has no relation with the previous cancer. It usually occurs in a person who has had a cancer in the past. This is otherwise also known as second primary cancer.

6. Can second cancers be prevented?

There are certain measures that can be followed to prevent the risk of developing second cancer. These tips are,

  • Regularly exercising
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a well-balanced and healthy diet
  • Quitting the habit of smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke
  • Applying sunscreens and protecting the skin from sun
  • Limiting consumption of alcohol

7. How does cancer spread after surgery?

When the chemotherapy and radiation treatment given after a surgery does not destroy the cancer cells completely, then the cancer might spread.

8. What is Cancer Survivorship?

Cancer survivorship aims at the health and well-being of the cancer patient, from the day of diagnosis till life. A patient who was diagnosed with cancer is known as cancer survivor.

9. What are the common changes that occur after cancer treatment?

Various changes that occur after cancer treatment include, emotional changes, physical changes, changes in relationships, changes in thinking and memory, intimacy changes etc.

10. What emotional concerns do patients experience after their treatment is over?

Cancer diagnosis can take a huge toll on the emotions of not only the patient but the family and friends as well. Anxiety, stress, fear, or depression are some common emotions that the patient and the patient’s and family and friends experience after treatment. It is essential to seek help to deal with these overwhelming emotions.

11. Can cancer be cured?

Yes, when detected and treated early using the right treatment methods, certain cancers can be cured.

12. What is cancer rehabilitation?

Cancer rehabilitation is a program that aims to help the cancer patients in maintaining and restoring the physical and emotional health. It can be done before, during and after the treatment ends.