What is a Caregiver?
First off I just want to say that getting a diagnosis that you have prostate cancer can be a very scary time. I know that when my father got the news that he had no symptoms of this disease so it was a total shock to him to hear this news. I didn’t know what to say to him at the time, but I knew that I would be there for support in the good times and the bad times. Before my father got prostate cancer I didn’t have a clue about it, but now I am his best advocate and can talk to his doctors about his treatment options and understand what they are telling me.
When is it necessary to find a caregiver?
The more we look at the word caregiver; the best definition would be when you can no longer care for yourself independently. It is in this time you may need the assistance of a caregiver. Amazingly, the numbers are startling for those who can’t completely care for themselves for one reason or another. It could be the treatments that are making them weak or depression set in. This is a gigantic decision for those involved. You will want to make sure the caregiver is suitable, trained, and able to offer the best possible help.
Maybe housework has become overwhelming. Perhaps your home is fairly big and you have steps that you have to climb. This can become daring going up and down the stairs to do housework. Maybe discussing getting a housecleaner to come to your home might work for you. This decision can relive a great amount of stress off of the one who is sick. Our bodies magnificently have a way to let us know when something is too much. We don't have to be superheroes, accept outside help. Radiation treatment and chemo can be exhausting.
Finding help when you need it
In today’s hustle and bustle, we must be able to get to the doctor’s office, physical therapy, grocery store, and pay our bills. But what if your treatment takes a heavy physical toll and it becomes difficult to do these things. You can always call a friend or take public transportation, but sometimes these things are not available to you when you need them. It is better to have a designated driver than risking a car accident. There are days for me when my father couldn't drive. I had to take him places because the radiation was too much and he would tell me that his pain level was a 10 that day.
There are so many agencies out there that have companion aids that will assist in small things. If I wasn’t able to get my father to the barber shop, he would get on a city bus. Your lifestyle can still be one where you don't have to compromise some things.
Regardless of the assistance you need, many people end up calling a family member to help them during this time in their life. This is where family comes in. You can run errands for the one who is going through treatments. Why not cook a meal or two or just be a listening ear?
It’s okay to ask
We want to lighten the load of a loved one who may be having challenges as they are dealing with getting back on their feet. This is not the time to turn away from loved ones; it’s the time to be there for them. Too many men go through prostate cancer isolated. As a caregiver, we need to be understanding and patient. I remember once my father wanted to talk to his doctor alone; I became upset, but when I spoke to the doctor he said, "You are still his little girl and there are just somethings he wants to discuss with his doctor alone. Your father knows you are a very important part of this journey with him."
Be kind to yourself
Being a good caretaker means taking care of yourself too. You can’t be all brokedown yourself and trying to help someone feel good about themselves. To be honest, proving support can be stressful at times, but I have learned to be good to myself and ask for help if I need it.
Have you experienced side effects from androgen deprivation therapy (ADT)?