How Technology Is Transforming Cancer Prevention

February 20, 2014

The field of oncology is constantly redefining treatment approaches and options to improve the standard of care for people everywhere. In a field that is rapidly making innovative advances, we are fortunate to stay aware of new discoveries in oncology through modern technology.

February is National Cancer Prevention Month, the perfect time to recognize how developments in oncology, coupled with technology, have impacted the lives of people living with cancer, caregivers and health professionals. A person’s geographic location or financial situation are no longer barriers. Mobile apps and health-focused websites allow instant access to topics such as cancer screenings, research updates and risk factors.

A prime example is simply picking up the telephone and joining one of CancerCare’s Connect Education Workshops. Whether participants listen to a live or archived Connect Education Workshop, they will hear compassionate experts in oncology provide the latest medical advances from the convenience of their own home or office. The comprehensive educational workshops have evolved with technology to include a webcast component, accessible online via podcast, and telephone replay.

CancerCare’s easy-to-read fact sheets and educational booklets, written by experts, can be ordered online, over the phone or viewed on our website. Like all of CancerCare’s services, our workshops, fact sheets and booklets are free of charge. 

In recognition of National Cancer Prevention Month, we encourage you to visit CancerCare’s workshop and publication webpages for up-to-date information from leading experts in oncology. The first and foremost step to cancer prevention is knowledge.

 

Guest blogger Sarah Quinlan is the Senior Education Technical and Marketing Coordinator at CancerCare.


Get Help With Caregiving Tasks This Holiday Season

November 22, 2013

Holidays are meant to be joyful times that create good memories. But for caregivers of people with cancer, it can be challenging to keep up with the preparations that often come with celebrating holidays along with juggling caregiving responsibilities such as taking a loved one to treatment. Many times, friends and community members may want to help out, but are unsure of where to begin.

MyCancerCircle.net is an online tool created by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in collaboration with CancerCare to help caregivers create their own community of support. The tool allows caregivers to coordinate volunteer activities such as cooking meals or transporting a loved one to appointments. My Cancer Circle™ also provides a private space where members can offer words of support and encouragement. To learn more about My Cancer Circle or to create a community to support a loved one facing cancer, visit www.MyCancerCircle.net.

Learn how to create a community of support from leading experts by listening to the podcast, My Cancer Circle: A Support Network for Caregivers. You can also read our fact sheet, “Building a Community of Support.” Order free copies online at http://www.cancercare.org/publications/order.

You may also find it helpful to review our resources on coping with cancer and caregiving during holidays and special events.

CancerCare provides free services specifically for caregivers, including support groups (available face to face, over the phone, and online), publications and Connect Education Workshops™. View all of CancerCare’s free services for caregivers.


My Cancer Circle: A Support Network for Caregivers

July 20, 2013

Caregivers provide important emotional and physical care for a person with cancer. Their responsibilities may include helping a loved one with daily activities such as getting to the doctor or preparing meals. They may also be tasked with managing finances and paperwork while keeping up with day-to-day family and work responsibilities.

Many times, friends and community members want to help, but are unsure of where to begin.

MyCancerCircle.net is an online tool created by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in collaboration with CancerCare to help caregivers create their own community of support. The tool allows caregivers to coordinate volunteer activities such as cooking meals or transporting a loved one to appointments. My Cancer Circle also provides a private space where members can offer words of support and encouragement.

To learn more about My Cancer Circle™ or to create a community to support a loved one facing cancer, visit www.MyCancerCircle.net.

Learn how to create a community of support from leading experts by listening to the podcast “My Cancer Circle: A Support Network for Caregivers.”

CancerCare provides free services specifically for caregivers, including support groups (available face to face, over the phone, and online), publications and Connect Education Workshops.

View all of CancerCare’s free services for caregivers. My Cancer Circle is a trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


Should I Stay or Should I Go?: Young Adults as Long-Distance Caregivers

June 15, 2013

Young adults in their 20s and 30s can undoubtedly feel overwhelmed when a parent is diagnosed with cancer. Many have limited experience with caregiving, and may feel unprepared for their new role. And young adult caregivers who have relocated far from home to pursue a career or start a family may face even more challenges.

Ultimately, the question many young adults providing care from a distance grapple with is, “Should I stay or should I go?” It’s a difficult choice to make: Young adults may end up feeing guilty if they choose to “stay” in their current location, or feel obligated to “go” while making difficult sacrifices.

The decision to provide care from a distance or relocate closer to home to care for a parent often leads to feelings of uncertainty and isolation. For some young adults, relocation may not be financially feasible. Social and cultural demands to take an active role in caring for parents may also add feelings of pressure and stress. And caregiving, whether locally or from a long distance, can also drastically impact intimacy and relationships, as well as children and family life.

Young adults who must contend with competing commitments and responsibilities often feel that their busy lives are barriers to getting support. That’s why, for many young adult caregivers, and indeed anyone coping with a cancer diagnosis, online support groups are an ideal option for sharing difficult feelings with peers in a similar situation.

Professionally led, age-specific groups such as CancerCare’s Young Adult Caregivers Online Support Group offer a safe space for group members to share experiences and feel part of a virtual community of support. Online groups allow for flexibility, as members can share their thoughts and feelings and offer advice and support at any time from anywhere with an internet connection.

Many young adults caring for a parent with cancer find these groups to be incredibly rewarding experiences that help them define and make sense of their new role. CancerCare’s specialized services can ultimately reduce distress and enhance the coping of young adult caregivers as they consider whether to stay or to go.

Learn more about our free support services for caregivers and young adults. Start connecting with others online, over the phone, or in-person by registering for one of our support groups.

Author: Carly Mesavitz, LMSW, Oncology Social Worker, CancerCare

 


CancerCare Advocate Provides Hope for others Affected by Cancer

June 1, 2013

Maddy Gold sharing her story at the CancerCare Festival of Hope Gala

After being deeply impacted by cancer at such a young age, 13-year-old Maddy has become a courageous advocate for CancerCare’s free professional services available to anyone affected by cancer.

Maddy began coming to CancerCare for emotional support at the age of six after her mother, Alyssa, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. “It was important for me to be at CancerCare, because if not, I would have let my nerves and feelings get the best of me,” explained Maddy. “My mom started losing her hair and got a wig. At first I didn’t understand why, but CancerCare once again came to the rescue. They explained to me about the medicine in her body and how it made her lose her hair.”

In December 2006, Alyssa passed away. Maddy and her brother continued coming to CancerCare to learn how to cope with their loss and their father joined a weekly bereavement group.

Determined to give back to the organization that helped her family through their most challenging times, Maddy dedicated her Bat Mitzvah project to providing hope to CancerCare clients. “Because of my experience, I know a lot about cancer. I wanted to contribute my time to talking to or working with children,” she said.

She currently volunteers at the CancerCare New Jersey office each week helping to prepare for the annual Healing Hearts Bereavement Camp. One of her passion projects involves creating a memory lane path where the children can add their fondest memories of a lost loved one. She has also raised over $1,500 by selling CancerCare bracelets and collecting donations through her family’s “Hearts of Gold” walking team.

Maddy continues to inspire CancerCare staff and clients each day with her desire to provide others with help and hope in the face of cancer.


Preventing and Managing Caregiver Burnout in Young Adults

April 23, 2013

Did you know that as a young person, you are especially susceptible to high levels of stress when serving as a caregiver? Navigating your own life, starting a family, developing a career and a variety of other responsibilities can impact your ability to provide care for another person. There are many helpful strategies as you approach this new role that may help to ease the burden and prevent or manage caregiver burnout.

Define your role as caregiver:

Identify your role and responsibilities. Are you serving as a primary caregiver or a casual friend/acquaintance? These two types of roles are equally important.  Your responsibilities can be flexible, so give yourself permission to modify as circumstances change.

Set guidelines and limits. How much and how often are you willing to give? Create a workable schedule and give yourself a day off or a “vacation” from caregiving. Define your non-negotiables (i.e. not moving in with the patient to provide care, or not taking time off work).

Consider alternate options for caregiving. Who else can provide practical and/or emotional support? What respite care is available (e.g., home health aide, visiting nurse)?

Prioritize responsibilities. What is most important to the patient? To you?

Getting acquainted with your new role:

Read literature. Know what types of literature are best for you. Do you prefer concrete medical information or literature that is more emotionally supportive?

Find your role in the medical context. Consider decisions about becoming a healthcare proxy or a power of attorney. Understand the legal impact of these roles and discuss with the patient early on. Will you attend appointments?

Talk to healthcare professionals. Let doctors and the entire health care team know who you are, what your role is and how they can reach you. Hospital social workers or patient navigators can be helpful advocates for you and the patient.  Ask questions regarding what to expect throughout the process, both physically and emotionally.

Understanding your relationship with the patient:

Acknowledge differences between the caregiver and the person with cancer. These differences are to be expected and it is normal to disagree. Reflect on what your relationship was like before cancer. A diagnosis does not necessarily change someone’s personality or your relationship, so it is important to manage your expectations. Cancer can intensify problems that were there before. Plan to seek support to help sort through what issues are cancer-related and what issues are not. Ask, don’t assume, how you can be there for them–communication is essential.

Helping other people “get it” and managing expectations. Inform others about your role as caregiver and ask for help. Let them know how this change is impacting you and how they can help meet your needs. Re-telling the same story can be exhausting. Simplify by sending a mass e-mail or utilizing resources like www.mycancercircle.org. Some people are good at practical tasks while others can offer emotional support–explore the abilities of others versus your expectations of them.

Finding “me” time. Maintain commitments and activities that pre-dated your caregiving responsibilities. Create and maximize alone time (e.g., take walks, practice breathing exercises) and take care of yourself (get recommended sleep, spend time with loved ones, seek counseling).

Finding what works for you. Remember that there is no right way to be a caregiver. Allow for a trial and error period and make sure to give yourself a break as soon as you need it.

Author: Carly Mesavitz, LMSW, Oncology Social Worker, CancerCare

 


Learn How To Create a Community of Support During The May 7 Webinar, “My Cancer Circle: A Support Network for Caregivers”

April 3, 2013

Caregivers provide important emotional and physical care for a person with cancer. Their responsibilities may include helping a loved one with daily activities such as getting to the doctor or preparing meals. They may also be tasked with managing finances and paperwork while keeping up with day-to-day family and work responsibilities.

Many times, friends and community members want to help, but are unsure of where to begin.

MyCancerCircle.net is an online tool created by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in collaboration with CancerCare to help caregivers create their own community of support. The tool allows caregivers to coordinate volunteer activities such as cooking meals or transporting a loved one to appointments. My Cancer Circle also provides a private space where members can offer words of support and encouragement.

To learn more about My Cancer Circle™ or to create a community to support a loved one facing cancer, visit www.MyCancerCircle.net.

Leading experts on caring for a loved one with cancer will discuss the role of the caregiver and review key features of this online tool during CancerCare’s Connect Education Workshop entitled: “My Cancer Circle – A Support Network for Caregivers.” The date of the webinar is May 7, from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Participation in the workshop is free, although registration is required.

Register for the Connect Education Workshop.

CancerCare provides free services specifically for caregivers, including support groups (available face to face, over the phone, and online), publications and Connect Education Workshops.

View all of CancerCare’s free services for caregivers. My Cancer Circle is a trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 


CancerCare and WellPoint Foundation Launch New Online Tool to Help Caregivers Cope with Stress

February 13, 2013

CancerCare has joined with WellPoint Foundation to launch HELP FOR CANCER CAREGIVERS, an online tool that provides education and resources to help caregivers cope with the stress of caregiving. The tool walks users through a brief survey and then provides personalized information to help monitor and manage health challenges they may face as a result of their responsibilities.

For example, if caregivers respond that they feel overloaded, Help for Cancer Caregivers provides information describing the symptoms and causes of overload, as well as information on how to cope and share their feelings with others.

The information on Help for Cancer Caregivers was constructed through a collaboration between experts at the Caregiver Action Network, Michigan State University, Indiana University and WellPoint Inc.

Help for Cancer Caregivers can be accessed free of charge at http://helpforcancercaregivers.org.

The stress of caregiving can take a serious toll on the emotional and physical health of caregivers. Research shows that finding ways to manage stress can help caregivers feel better and provide better care for their loved one.

For nearly 70 years, CancerCare has helped patients and caregivers better manage the emotional and practical challenges of cancer. CancerCare’s free services for caregivers include counseling, support groups, Connect Education Workshops, and publications.

Learn more about our free support services for caregivers.


Do You Have a Question About Caregiving? Ask CancerCare.

January 15, 2013

Caregivers of people with cancer face many challenges, and may have questions about how to provide emotional and practical support to their loved one.

CancerCare’s professional oncology social workers will answer your questions about caregiving during January. Submit a question at www.cancercare.org/questions.

You can also browse our archive of past questions on many different cancer-related topics, all of which were answered by a professional oncology social worker.

View all of CancerCare’s resources on caregiving.


Tips for Caregiving for a Loved One During the Holidays

November 19, 2012

Holidays and special occasions are often thought of as times to celebrate traditions and create lasting memories with friends and family.

For caregivers of people with cancer, however, it can be challenging to balance caregiving responsibilities while preparing for an upcoming holiday or special occasion. But by planning ahead, caregivers and their loved ones can find ways to get the most out of special events.

Here are some tips for caregiving for a loved one with cancer during holidays and special occasions:

  • Talk to your health care team about upcoming special events. They may be flexible about appointments in order to accommodate travel or other needs.
  • Adjust your expectations. Consider if an upcoming event may place too much of a strain on you or your loved one. For example, caregivers who traditionally host a holiday celebration at their home may decide to invite fewer guests this year, or not host the event at all.
  • Talk with your loved one about what the special occasion means to him or her. An upcoming holiday could have a new meaning for someone who is going through cancer treatment. Ask your loved one how he or she would like to celebrate, and then try to honor those wishes.
  • Establish new traditions. Caregivers who usually cook holiday meals, for example, may decide to order the meal from a restaurant or caterer. Or, they could ask a friend or loved one to assist them with the cooking this year.
  • Enjoy special moments. Try to focus on new traditions that have been established, rather than dwelling on how cancer has changed a holiday or special occasion.

Read our fact sheet, “Caregiving During Holidays and Special Occasions,” for more tips on how to make the most of holidays while caring for a loved one with cancer.

Leading experts in caring for patients and caregivers answered listeners’ questions during our Connect Education Workshop, “For Caregivers: Coping with a Loved One’s Cancer During the Holidays.” Listen to the workshop.  

People who have been diagnosed with cancer may feel more out of step, sad, or anxious around holidays and special occasions. The professional oncology social workers at CancerCare provide free counseling to help people cope with the difficult emotions holidays can bring. Call 800-813-HOPE (4673) to speak with a professional oncology social worker.

Browse all of CancerCare’s resources that address holidays and special occasions