Caring for Yourself as a Caregiver
- Patrick Dempsey and his family took care of his mom as she battled ovarian cancer for 17 years before passing away.
- They focused on helping her stay positive by making sure she had a variety of daily activities to keep busy.
- He saw firsthand how important it is for caregivers to prioritize their own physical and mental health too.
- It’s one of the reasons he co-founded The Dempsey Center in his home state of Maine.
- The center offers complementary services for cancer patients and for caregivers, such as group therapy.
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Being A CaregiverDempsey’s mother, first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1997, battled the disease for 17 years before she passed away. Her cancer journey affected the entire family, a close-knit group that remains tight to this day. In an intimate sit-down interview with SurvivorNet, Dempsey offered advice to others who act as caregivers for loved ones facing cancer.
“We went through all the ups and the downs, and went through the entire experience,” Dempsey said. “With the recurrences, it was [hard] to stay optimistic.”
His sister, he added, was responsible for the brunt of the caregiving responsibilities, so their mom’s cancer was toughest on her.
One of their goals, he noted, was to help their mom stay positive. A strategy they tried was to make sure she had a variety of daily activities to keep her busy.
Through the experience, he said, the whole family learned how important it is for caregivers to keep their own health — mental and physical — in check.
This was one of the reasons that Dempsey co-founded The Dempsey Center in his home state of Maine. It offers complementary services for cancer patients and for caregivers, such as group therapy.
The center also offers yoga, meditation, Reiki, acupuncture, support groups and grief counseling, among other classes and therapies.
All are welcome, and the services are free of charge. The center is able to do this through donations, corporate sponsorships and foundation grants, along with an annual bike event, the Dempsey Challenge.
More Caregiving Stories
- “Be Proud Of What You’re Doing” — Justine Almada’s Ode to Cancer Caregivers
- “I Try To Stay Strong, But Sometimes You Need To Cry”: Playing The Role of Cancer Caregiver and Mom
- “It Made All the Difference”: How Bruce Willis’ Wife Emma Willis Prioritizes Her Own Happiness While Being a Caregiver
- Actress Rosario Dawson On Being a Caregiver During Father’s Cancer Treatment– Adjusting Filming & The Importance of Showing Up
The Value of Pairing Complementary Medicine With Conventional Treatment
Complementing conventional medicine with holistic healing methods and supportive, whole-person care is called “integrative medicine.” Many doctors believe in its benefits, given that the effects of the disease go beyond the physical impact of the cancer itself.
“Complementary medicine, I think, is very important,” Dempsey said.
“For me, racing is the perfect example. You have the driver, you have the engineer, and then you have the mechanics and team, and you’ve gotta get around the circuit. And you better not wreck it.”
Dr. Brian Berman, the Director, Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland on The Difference Between Integrative Medicine and “Alternative Medicine”
As Dempsey explained, many oncologists are on-board with complementary medicine. They recognize that it can be really beneficial when used alongside cancer treatment.
“Whatever an individual needs and a family needs, we try to customize it for them, while at the same time working with their doctors,” Dempsey said.
Contributor: SurvivorNet Staff
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