Thank you Pfizer for sponsoring this post. Join Pfizer’s This Is Living With Cancer™ initiative by sharing your story with #InspirationLives on Facebook and Instagram to support and inspire those who have been affected by cancer, and be sure to check out the LivingWith™ mobile app available via iTunes and Google Play.
As a two-time cancer survivor, I have been the patient. I know what it is to be in deep need of others and their support. I know the importance of caregivers and how they can make a scary, horrible experience into something quite beautiful and bearable.
Being in remission for seven years has also allowed me to be the caregiver. I know what it means to show up and support a loved one while they are in the fight for their life. I know the beauty of bearing burdens and how coming alongside another in their suffering can not only help them, but also can change you and give your life moments deep meaning and beauty.
I’ve talked a lot about the brave cancer fighters I’ve met and loved. I have the unique opportunity as a survivor myself and, through this blog, to reach and meet many cancer fighters.
What I have not talked about very much is the role of caregiver.
In my fight with stage 3b breast cancer, I had the honor of watching so many precious caregivers come alongside me and show me what deep caring and giving looks like.
I have been given seven precious years to implement what I have learned to help others in their need.
I’ve learned a few things along the way, and I have also found a tool to pass on to you for when you find yourself in the role of caregiver.
Pfizer offers This Is Living With Cancer™, a national awareness program that includes a free mobile app for anyone living with cancer called LivingWith™. It is designed to help manage some of the daily challenges faced by people living with cancer.
As a caregiver, this is a helpful tool for your loved one to utilize. It can give you both direction, clarity and a place to gather and keep all the things!
It can help your confidence that you CAN do this and do it well. It is a helpful tool that may aid you in communication both with your loved one who is fighting cancer and with those who love them because caregiving will take a team.
Keys for a Cancer Caregiver: Community, Communication & a Caring Heart
Three main things you will need when caregiving is Community, Communication & a Caring Heart
The LivingWith app can help. Let me show you.
As you can see, all three things are addressed on the dashboard of the app:
My Circle is the hub of community.
Requests and Health Notes may help with communication.
Well-Being could help you care for your loved one and may even inspire you to do some self-care, too!
The app helps your loved one “assign a Proxy who can manage your account on your behalf if desired. Champions who are the people you rely on the most for daily help, and Supporters receive updates and help where and when they can.”
You can help your loved one schedule and organize support right there in the app and keep everyone up-to-date.
As a caregiver, helping build a team is so important. It allows different people to serve in their unique and gifted ways.
It also keeps one person from being overwhelmed with the caregiving and will help surround the patient with love, which is so very healing.
Good communication is so important, and sometimes it can be hard as the caregiver to know exactly what is needed and when.
As a caregiver, it informs you in a simple way about how they are doing and gives you a heads up on how to care for them.
It gives you a way to help them communicate with your loved one’s supporters, know how to organize their thoughts and needs and share them with just a touch of a button.
Battling cancer can be overwhelming for both the patient and the caregiver. This app can be a helpful way to simplify the communication process.
The app helps you keep track of important notes and questions in between appointments. As a caregiver, you are a listener, and you can encourage your loved one to put his or her cares and concerns into list form to ask his or her doctor. This may help him or her release worry.
When you attend doctors’ appointments, keep the app open and take active notes for your loved one. This can be very helpful.
What is said during doctors’ appointments can be filled with many emotions, good and bad. Being present during these precious, life-changing moments with your loved one should not be taken lightly.
Oftentimes, your loved one is going to hear test results that can take his or her breath away . . . again, both in a good and bad way. With cancer, it can go either way.
Knowing that the important things the doctor says are being tracked and gathered in one accessible place may bring peace of mind.
A Caring Heart
Cancer can reveal just how precious life is. As a caregiver, you may find your love and care for the person with cancer almost overwhelming. You want to help your loved one fight and fight well.
The app can keep track of your loved one’s steps, sleep, pain and mood.
I encourage you, as a caregiver, to be mindful of these things for yourself. You want to be your strongest self, and that means taking care of your own basic needs, too.
Make sure you are getting the rest you need. Take walks. Hydrate. Practice self-care and take care of that caring heart of yours.
You will not regret doing your best in caregiving. It may not be a role you imagined playing or even chose to play, but look for the beauty in things that are difficult, for love is why it is so hard in the first place.
It would not be hard if you didn’t care. Take care of your dear, caring heart and keep choosing love!
For more information about Pfizer’s This Is Living With Cancer, and to download the free LivingWith mobile app, please visit www.ThisIsLivingWithCancer.com. Patients and their loved ones also can find the initiative on Facebook and Instagram.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.