A patient gets the diagnosis of cancer. The doctors begin aggressive treatments and the patient spends most of their time being prodded and poked, getting toxic medications to hopefully kill the cancer, radiation treatments that can bring a person to their knees. This is all in the hopes of stopping the spread of the cancer, and possibly even killing the cancer cells that are there. While the patient endures these treatments, the caretaker has to stand by and watch. The caretaker, maybe not by choice, but with all the love they have, becomes one of the most important pieces of the treatment pie. There has to be someone to keep an eye on the patient when he or she is not with the doctors. Someone has to make sure the medicines are being taken properly. Cancer patients are not helpless, but there are times during treatment when they will be too sick to take care of themselves. A spouse or close family member becomes the caretaker.
The other family members are affected as well. Children have to take on more responsibility, other family members need to pick up the slack of helping with getting the children where they need to be, maybe bringing dinner or sitting with the cancer patient and spending time with them.
While there are no real “treatments” for the family, there are support groups out there. The caretaker is thrust into the role, and while they want to do everything they can, they may not know exactly what that is. There are “Friends and Family” support groups to help the entire family deal with this all encompassing disease. It is more important than ever to get emotional support so that when you are on the other side, and hopefully cancer is no longer the center of your family’s attention, you can then help those who are where you have been.