Finding Support for the Cancer Caregiver

July 7, 2014

If you are helping to care for a loved one with cancer, you are a “caregiver.” It can be an incredibly rewarding role, but it can also take an emotional and physical toll. You need support, too.

Some caregivers find it difficult to ask for help. You may feel embarrassed or like you’re imposing on others. But getting help is important—for both for you and the person you are caring for.

The website Help for Cancer Caregivers was created especially to help you take care of yourself, while you take care of your loved one.

CancerCare client Kathryn opened up about her caregiving experience after her husband was diagnosed with melanoma. “One of the biggest challenges that I was facing as a caregiver was feeling the need to be ‘on’ all the time, feeling that I had to be the one who remained strong and healthy. I was surrounded by people who loved both of us and supported us, but there was no one in the room who really understood what I was going through.”

To be the best caregiver for your loved one, seek support and information from others. Caregivers who receive help report feeling less isolated, anxious and depressed. And, having a community of support can free up their time and help them maintain their physical and emotional well-being, which in turn makes them better able to care for their loved one.

“Some of the most important things to keep in mind while caring for a loved one is that it’s important to listen to them and give them a safe space, but also to have them listen to you and let them take care of you a little bit sometimes,” shared Kathryn.

Help for Cancer Caregivers is a unique collaboration of organizations with a shared goal of improving the health and well-being of the people who care for people with cancer. CancerCare has additional resources dedicated to helping you cope, including support groups, publications and podcasts. For additional help, reach out to one of our oncology social workers by calling 800-813-HOPE (4673).

 


Coping with Lung Cancer: Arlene’s Story

May 27, 2014

Arlene visiting the CancerCare Wig Clinic

During a routine annual check-up with her physician, Arlene C. learned that after 15 years in remission, her lung cancer had returned. “The cancer had come back – an aggressive one. Surgery and chemo. That’s when it all began,” shared Arlene.

Arlene knew that chemo meant she would likely lose her hair and she wanted to prepare herself for the physical change and the accompanying emotions she might experience. Her daughter-in-law mentioned that CancerCare had resources that could help.

After making an appointment at the New York City-based CancerCare Wig Clinic, Arlene and a friend met with an oncology social worker to discuss her treatment and the challenges she was facing. She was also fitted for her new wig and given a care package to help her through the next few months.

“I went to CancerCare and was treated royally,” said Arlene. “I was expecting the hair loss, but it was still a shock to my system. But I didn’t make myself or anyone else nuts over it and, before I turned around, I had hair again.”

Arlene was touched by the care she received and made a donation to the organization and wrote a poem about her experience. “I made a donation in honor of the CancerCare staff who just made my day in many ways with their caring and comfort.”

 

“Daze of Chemo”

By Arlene C.

The doctor called, “We have to talk”

I set the date to learn my fate

Aggressive cancer

Surgery then chemo

The next step was to embark with my children Susan and Mark

Where to go for my chemo?

Mark thought I should be closer to him in Sag Harbor for treatments

But we let that rest and went with the alternative that was best

The calendar was marked for the days, the hours, but not my mind or body

Mark and Susan were with me all the way

I made a promise I couldn’t sway or betray

Where do I begin?

The daze of chemo was upon me

I was never good at acting

But in the end I knew I was going to win a trophy as the best robot

Where do I begin?

My battle began with anxiety, brain loss – especially names

Stomach problems, low blood pressure

All of this caused by the very strong dosage given

However they changed the recipe and I was cooking again

And then the crowing glory

I lost all my hair

Susan bought me a hat

CancerCare gave me a wig

And I amassed some turbans, etc.

Everyday became a chore

Trying to match headwear with outfits

The one good perk was I didn’t have to buy shampoo

Six months later, after two PET scans, I’m clean

Is there anything else to do but thank God and all my friends that prayed for me?

Not done yet

I had my own unveiling

Tossed the turbans, etc. and showed my head off

Everyone loved my new hair do

I truly felt I went from being a robot to queen for a day

 


CancerCare Superstar Maddy Shares Her Story of Help and Hope

April 21, 2014

Alyssa and Maddy

Maddy Gold, 13, has quickly become one of CancerCare’s most inspiring advocates by sharing her personal cancer experience. As a result, she has made a remarkable impact on the lives of others.

Maddy began coming to CancerCare at the age of four to receive emotional support after her mother, Alyssa, was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. She found it to be a safe space to talk about all of the changes their family was facing.

“I remember that when my mom started losing her hair, I didn’t understand why. My social worker explained to me that the medicine in her body made my mom lose her hair, and as a young child, that made me feel better,” shares Maddy.

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

“CancerCare was one of the only places where I could go to escape the sadness of my mom’s cancer and be myself – talking about my true feelings with my social worker who really understood and cared about me and my family and what we were going through.”

In honor of Alyssa, the Gold family formed the walking team “Hearts of Gold” to raise funds for CancerCare’s free support services. Maddy also serves as a volunteer at CancerCare’s New Jersey office and has raised $1,500 by selling awareness bracelets.

Maddy will share her powerful story at the CancerCare 70th Anniversary Celebration Gala on April 23. Learn how you can get involved and support this exciting event and help Maddy’s cause: http://community.cancercare.org/gala.

“My mom got so much support from CancerCare when she was sick and would be so happy that I continue to give back to help other people just like her.”

 

 


CancerCare Recognizes the Importance of Cognitive Behavior Therapy for People Affected by Cancer

March 24, 2014

CancerCare Social Work Staff and Training Instructors

CancerCare‘s staff of oncology social workers recently received in-depth training on the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anyone affected by a cancer diagnosis. CBT is a therapeutic model that focuses on empowering the client to create coping mechanisms for life stressors and issues that otherwise compromise the quality of life.

“CBT is a model that fits the CancerCare counseling approach and is appropriate for the person with cancer, the caregiver and the bereaved,” said CancerCare Director of Clinical Services William Goeren, LCSW-R, ACSW, BCD.

One featured topic, “Body Image Issues after Cancer Treatment,” explored the multiple factors affecting body image and the outcomes of CBT and mindfulness interventions.

The training was lead by Szilvia Vas, health psychology researcher and member of the British Psychological Society; Andrea Ryder, Macmillan therapist; Ashley Yarwood, Macmillan therapist; and Jeanette McCarthy Macmillan director.

CancerCare provides free services for anyone affected by cancer. View all of CancerCare’s body image resources and learn more about our counseling services.

 


AVONCares Supports CancerCare Financial Assistance for Women Facing Cancer

August 19, 2013

Being told that you have breast cancer or watching as a love one receives this diagnosis can turn your world upside down. Facing important medical decisions and managing difficult emotions can sometimes be overwhelming to everyone involved. But for many families, it is the tremendous financial cost of cancer treatment that presents the greatest challenge.

The financial impact of a cancer diagnosis is oftentimes overlooked and under-discussed. The inability to go to work and provide for one’s family, paired with medical and practical costs, can result in patients feeling lost and unsure of where to turn for help.

Donna came to CancerCare after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and facing a financial crisis. “I was overwhelmed with emotions, questions, concerns, and yes, sometimes fear. Because I was laid off from my job just short of a year before being diagnosed with aggressive stage-II cancer, I had nowhere else to go, since my treatments were overwhelming and left me with no energy to work. CancerCare came through for me, helping me to attend my daily radiation treatments that extended for seven weeks.”

Since 2000, The Avon Foundation for Women has generously supported CancerCare‘s financial assistance services, educational programs and publications for underserved women facing breast cancer. AVONCares, a partnership between CancerCare and the Avon Foundation for Women, provides limited financial assistance to underserved women for homecare, child care and transportation. Over the past 13 years of our partnership, the Avon Foundation has provided more than $20,000,000 to more than 65,000 women from all 50 states.

Remember to reach out for support—medical debt can cause emotional stress, but there are resources available to provide relief. Learn more about CancerCare’s financial assistance services, and view all of our support services for people affected by breast cancer, including counseling, support groups and education.

Support for CancerCare and the Avon Cares program is made possible by funds raised through the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer series. For more information, visit www.avonwalk.org.

 


Treatment Update: Breast Cancer With Advances in the Treatment of HER2-Positive Breast Cancer and Highlights from the 2012 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

June 21, 2013

Read about new treatment therapies for breast cancer in our Connect Booklet Treatment Update: Breast Cancer With Advances in the Treatment of HER2-Positive Breast Cancer and Highlights from the 2012 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. In this booklet, we talk about the medications now available and new drugs in development for treating breast cancer. We also describe possible treatment side effects and how to prevent and cope with them.

You can also order free copies from our publications page.


Support for Women with Cervical Cancer

January 25, 2013

CancerCare provides free support services for women coping with cervical cancer, including counseling from professional oncology social workers and financial assistance.

Beginning February 4, CancerCare will also offer an online support group for women diagnosed with gynecologic and/or reproductive cancer who are currently receiving treatment. The group will be led by a professional oncology social worker.

“A diagnosis of cervical cancer can leave women feeling uncertain and alone,” says CancerCare women’s cancers program coordinator Allison Nilsen, LMSW. “Joining a support group can be a wonderful way to connect with others in a similar situation, where members can share feelings, ideas and information in a supportive environment.” 

Registration is required to join this support group. After joining this password-protected group, members can read and post messages 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Register for this support group.

Visit CancerCare’s cervical cancer resources page to learn more about our services for women with cervical cancer.


Online Support Groups for People Coping with Cancer

July 26, 2012

CancerCare’s free online support groups connect you with others in a similar situation, helping you find support no matter where you live. Our online support groups are led by professional oncology social workers and are password-protected. Once members complete our registration process, they can participate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We offer over 20 different support groups targeting specific populations, such as people in treatment for cancer, people who are post-treatment, caregivers, and people who have lost a loved one.

A few support groups that are actively seeking new members include our Brain Tumor Caregiver Support Group, Metastatic Breast Cancer Patient Support Group, and People Who Have Lost A Loved One Support Group.

Even if we don’t currently offer a group for your specific diagnosis, we do offer general groups for men with cancer and women with cancer.

All support groups are completely free of charge, but registration is requiredLearn more.


EIF Revlon Run/Walk Supports CancerCare Services for Women

May 9, 2012

CancerCare’s team of dedicated supporters braved the rainy spring weather this past weekend to take part in the EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women in New York City. Our team raised more than $5,000 to benefit our free, professional support services for women affected by cancer.

You can still help us meet our goal of raising $10,000 by making a donation to our team at www.cancercare.org/revlonrunwalk. All funds raised benefit our free support services.

Danielle Marquez, CancerCare oncology social worker and member of CancerCare's EIF Revlon Run/Walk team

For women affected by breast cancer, CancerCare offers individual counseling, breast prosthesis clinics (available at our national office in New York City), and support groups (available over the telephone, online, and face to face). Learn more about our breast cancer resources, including our upcoming Connect Education Workshop, Update on Ductal Carcinoma in Situ.

CancerCare’s services for women affected by ovarian cancer include telephone and online support groups as well as our toll-free L’Oreal Paris OCRF Helpline, which is staffed by professional oncology social workers. View all of our ovarian cancer resources. For women affected by cervical cancer, we offer a telephone support group.

Founded in 1944, CancerCare helps anyone, anywhere in the United States, affected by cancer. To learn more, call 800-813-HOPE (4673) or visit www.cancercare.org.


Financial Help for Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer

January 27, 2012

CancerCare has launched a new program to provide financial help to women coping with metastatic breast cancer. The program, “CancerCare – Get You There,” provides financial assistance grants for transportation to and from treatment.

To learn more about CancerCare’s financial assistance programs or download an application, visit www.cancercare.org/financial. Or, call 800-813-HOPE (4673).

Metastatic breast cancer is the most advanced stage of breast cancer, which is among the most commonly diagnosed cancers in women. We offer free support services for anyone affected by metastatic breast cancer, including support groups available online and over the telephone.

View all of our resources for women coping with breast cancer.