It’s hard to put a price on the sacrifices we make for the people we care about. A lot of people in the SurvivorNet family tell us they are thankful that someone like the actor Rob Lowe is now trying to raise awareness for caregivers.
Family and friends are crucial to the treatment and recovery processes which so many cancer patients face. But what about the people we rely on to help take care of us? How does a cancer diagnosis effect the life and health of the people who provide that necessary extra care and support?Read More
Though we can’t know exactly how Lowe’s experience resembles what other people face, not to mention other people with fewer resources, it is very common for caregivers to start putting all of their energy into thinking about a loved one.
“What I’ve learned along the way is that many caregivers don’t feel supported, they don’t know where to turn for help, and they often suffer stress-related health problems of their own, yet the last thing on their minds is their own health.”
Lowe says that caregiving is enormously rewarding, but is trying to help more people understand the burdens as well. “It’s not a role I was expecting to land, it didn’t come with much preparation, but it turned out to be one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done — and, undeniably, one of the most difficult. This often meant trying to figure out and manage her medical paperwork, medication schedules, and in-house help, and continually redefining and ever-changing ‘new normal’ for all of us. I often felt overwhelmed, and that was even with all the support I had from my brothers and colleagues.” The revelations feel like the hugely more significant version of “Celebrities: They’re Just Like Us” sections of gossip magazines.
As SurvivorNet has reported cancer can have an adverse effect on a patient’s career. There is also very real evidence that being a caregiver can also negatively effect your career and health. 25% of unpaid caregivers are millennials (people between 22 and 37 years old), and often have to choose between caring for a loved one and advancing their careers.
We know that depression and anxiety are completely normal for people with a cancer diagnosis. About 15% of people with a cancer diagnosis develop a major depressive disorder. It’s also common for people providing care for their loved ones to suffer mental and other health complications as well, including depression, sleep trouble, weight fluctuations and other health complications. “When you’re caring for a loved one, there’s nothing you won’t do (or sacrifice) to give them as much comfort and peace of mind as you can possibly provide. Often, that means you’ll skip your social obligations, wreck your diet, suffer sleep deprivation, and even risk your career, all to help a loved one through the most difficult time of their life.”