Caregivers Guide – Helping Our Loved Ones with Cancer
It’s no secret that many of our Men’s Liberty clients have suffered from cancer – typically prostate cancer. And as a result of their treatment, they’ve encountered issues with incontinence.
As we speak with men every day about the solutions and the results that the Men’s Liberty device provides, it’s quite common that we hear the deep appreciation that these men have for their caregivers.
In fact, probably the most common statement is “I believe it’s been harder on my wife and my family – my caregivers.”
Taking care of our beloved friends and family members can be challenging. In the process, it will test our patience, our flexibility, our strength, and yes – even our loving heart. Providing care can also be very rewarding and fulfilling.
We also receive calls from caregivers, and one call stands out in our memory. She said that taking care of her husband reminded her of her 4-year-old dog. It seems that for the first 2½ years of having their dog, he just couldn’t master potty training.
Every time she turned around, the puppy had piddled (or worse) on the floor. But the love and the joy and the happiness that his little smiling face and wagging tail brought to the family overcame all the hundreds of times she considered taking him to the pet adoption center!
In other words, maintaining balance takes finesse.
The social psychologists have broken down the process of caregiving into the 3 stages of the cancer process.
Stage 1 – Cancer Diagnosis.
Many times caregivers notice that something is “different” even before their loved ones do. Typically that begins with encouraging him to get it checked out.
Probably the most difficult day in the process is when the doctor says he has cancer. That’s when most caregivers jump into action, providing support, asking questions and helping process the news.
And that’s the day that caregivers adjust their days and nights for the responsibilities that lie ahead.
- Be present – physically and emotionally
- Allow him to talk and share that he’s afraid
- Listen and acknowledge his fears
- DO NOT say that “everything will be fine”
- Let him know he is not alone
- Take notes during medical appointments
- Listen to the recommendations
- Don’t hesitate to rely on social workers, spiritual advisors and other professionals
- Discuss how you’ll report the news to family, friends, and work
- Ask family members to pitch in and help
- TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF TOO!! You’re not going to be much help if you wear yourself into a frazzle
- Make it a point to ask yourself – who can YOU turn to when you feel overwhelmed or alone
Phase 2 – Treatment
- Accompany him to chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments
- Help him feel comfortable while receiving treatments
- Bring something to keep yourself occupied – a book or your laptop
- Continue to take notes of anything pertinent to the treatments
- If you notice any changes in him, report them to your medical team
- Don’t forget to seek help from friends and family when you need a break
- Manage all paperwork for medical leave, insurance issues, finances, etc. (know there are community agencies to help – talk to a social worker)
- Not easy to do, but begin to discuss advance care planning – Discuss his values, goals and wishes and talk through the options
- Encourage to completion of an advance directive, which ensures that his wishes are clearly documented
- Again – maintain balance for yourself!
Stage 3 – If Recurrence
If recurrence occurs, it’s normal for most men to feel anger, resentment, sadness and fear. This is the time to provide as much emotional support as possible
- Allow time to adjust back into the caregiving role
- If requested, help him explore potential treatment options, including accompanying him on appointments
Caring for a loved one can really be emotionally and physically exhausting, but as we began this discussion – it can also be tremendously rewarding and fulfilling. Many people find new meaning and purpose in their lives, as well as great renewal, reconnecting and deepening in their relationships.
You may be surprised to hear, but we actually have a lot of caregivers who call us looking for solutions! Their hearts are broken seeing their loved ones wearing diapers and pads, getting skin rashes and lesions, and worse yet, wearing catheters, fighting urinary tract infections and hospital visits as a result of infections…
And worse yet, the effects of diapers and pads – men not leaving the home due to odors and leakage. As a result of all the horrible side effects from other incontinence products, caregivers are searching for the best solutions and attempting to help their loved ones regain their freedom!
That’s exactly what Men’s Liberty does, and it’s easily the number 1 thing we hear from our dedicated and loyal fans – they’ve regained their independence and freedom and they’re back being active with friends and family, and enjoying life to the fullest!
Approaching caregiving with patience, humor, love and humility will most likely give you great pride and honor in the role you played.
We honor your commitment and acknowledge how both challenging and rewarding caregiving can truly be. We are here for you and with you, and thank you for your tremendous love and commitments!