Why We Need to Celebrate Lung Cancer Care Partners

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Topics include: Living Well

What is the role of a care partner? Katie Brown, Certified Patient Navigator, and Sarah Rosenbloom, licensed clinical psychologist, give credit to these unsung heros by explaining the extent to which they go to support their loved one diagnosed with lung cancer. Tune in to find out more.

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Susan Leclair:

One of the large groups here today that we really haven’t focused on to any extent is the caregiver and the care partner. They’re one step removed from the decision making, so they’re one less level of control I guess involved. And yet, they feel responsible for a huge amount of life’s daily activities. How should they try and cope? Should there be formal psychotherapy?  Should there be girls’ night out or boys’ night out? Should there be movies with your best friends? You had mentioned again to me earlier that, and I think earlier in the panel, about your mother and your father your husband.

How can we help those people get through what is, for them, a total change in the planet? It’s as if everything that they’ve got has flipped upside down. 

Sarah Rosenbloom:          

I mean, lung cancer especially, I think, affects the entire family. And especially in a couple or in a dyad, it can affect the caregiver almost as much as the person going through the treatment. And, like you said, you can feel so responsible but, in addition, feel pretty helpless about what to do and what kinds of things they can have control over. And you know, the old adage of, you know, on an airplane that’s going down, you have to help yourself prior to helping the person next to you put on that oxygen mask. And I think, really, it applies here, too.

And if the caregiver is burning the candle at both ends and really having a complete shift in their entire life in terms of goals, focus, priority, activities, that’s going to be very difficult to sustain.

And although that would be their most important focus, it can’t be 100 percent of, I think, life in that there’s going to have to be a lot of stepping up of self-care in addition to be able to continue to have the support and the stamina to be able to help their loved one. 

Susan Leclair:     

Katie, you were nodding quite vigorously. 

Katie Brown:     

I was.  I was my dad’s caregiver.  My dad passed away of lung cancer.  And caregivers are unsung heroes.  They really are.  While you have a medical team taking care of the patient, there’s not that team taking care of the caregiver. And so you are burning the candle at both ends. And you are an encourager.  You’re a cheerleader.  You don’t really have that natural outlet to talk about what’s bothering you. And it’s very difficult for some people to ask for help. There are organizations that will help caregivers.  LUNGevity has a caregiver resource center.

We have peer-to-peer support. We were talking about food earlier.  You know, a lot of times, caregivers are the ones that are preparing the food. And so they’re expressing frustration because their loved one is not eating the food. So little tips like instead of, you know, creating a large meal because, by the time the meal is prepared, your loved one is no longer hungry, has lost his appetite, you know, putting small, ready to eat foods on the table and grazing all day, because those calories add up. Little things like that really help. 

So I think for caregivers connecting with others who understand and having an outlet and then making sure that you have time that’s away from cancer and care giving so that you sort of remember who you are, and you get that break.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on December 11, 2015