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A Note to the Caregiver

Aug 21, 2023
Caregiver smiles across at patient whom she's interviewing.

Dear Caregiver,

Behind every cancer survivor is a caregiver. You may be a family member, partner, or friend, but whatever your relationship with them, you are the primary person helping care for and advocate alongside a survivor (a person with cancer from diagnosis through end of life). Often going unnoticed, it can be a tough role to fill.

When I graduated from nursing school, my mother would joke that she should get her nursing degree too, as she had walked with me through that journey. Conversely, I would argue that you, too, are also a survivor as you care for them every step of the way.

Many times, caregiving is a thankless role.

A role where you are asked questions, many of which you may not have the answers to. You have a front row seat to suffering or pain that is difficult to control. You may help make decisions that others do not understand, especially if they are not able to see the full picture.

However, you are valuable. Necessary. Needed. Your cancer survivor may not have the energy to say thank you, but what they go through is not by choice, and is hard to walk alone. You may not have the words, but you can hold their hand. You were given the gift of vulnerability, where you were invited into real—sometimes messy experiences—with another person.

Many times, caregiving is a lonely role.

It may feel that no one can understand what you are dealing with, but you are not alone. There are others in similar situations, and there are also your own family and friends who care about you. Be honest about how you may be doing with yourself and with others. We are built to be in community.

Amid caring for another, please take care of yourself. It may only look like a few moments here and there of doing something you enjoy, but those moments can bring the energy and refreshment you need before returning to the next thing. Go to your own doctor’s appointments and pay attention to how stress and fatigue may be affecting your own health.

Laugh often. Those small moments that bring smiles and laughter are life giving.

At times there is an accompanying mental and emotional battle. It is just that – a battle. Take supplies with you to the battlefield – such as going to therapy, joining a caregiver support group, or finding another way to process what you are going through. Journaling, yoga, relaxation, and more can be tools that help you, and as a result, help the person you care for. When you give care to yourself, you can be a better care giver. You cannot give from an empty cup.

What you do as a caregiver may be difficult, but it is important. You make a difference. Out of all the things I can write, please hear these two words: thank you.

Here are some practical tips for caregivers:

Caregiving Resources

Baptist Cancer Center is happy to provide you with this list of caregiver resources. Have questions? Please reach out to us.


Information & Education

Information & Education

  • American Cancer Society – ACS has an Interactive Caregiver Resource Guide.
  • Caregiver Action Network (CAN) – the nation’s leading family caregiver organization working to improve the quality of life for the more than 90 million Americans who care for loved ones.
  • Cancer Support Community – Webinar series on being a caregiver and library of resources/guides. They also offer support groups, educational workshops, and mind/body programs.
  • Caring Community – An online resource for people thinking about, planning for, or living with serious illness and end-of-life issues. Their website has a section on Caregiving.
  • Eldercare Locator – their Caregiver Corner has useful links and resources.
  • Family Caregiver Alliance – Offers a wide range of caregiver resources.
    • CareNav – A personalized dashboard matching your unique caregiving needs.
    • Services by State – A clickable tool to help caregivers locate programs and services.
  • HelpGuide – A nonprofit that offers guides to mental health and wellness, including regarding caregiving and avoiding burnout. 
  • National Alliance for Caregiving – Dedicated to providing support to family caregivers and the professionals who help them and to increasing public awareness of issues facing family caregivers.
    • Phone: (301) 718-8444
    • Take Care – a partnership of NAC and the Adira Foundation, Take Care is a platform that provides support to caregivers by offering meaningful resources for caregivers, by caregivers.
Utilize Your Community
  • Caring Bridge – A free online tool for sharing health updates, asking your community for help with errands or chores, settingup a GoFundMe or Meal Train, and more.
  • Lotsa Helping Hands – Powers free online caring communities that provide tools to organize daily life during times of medical crisis or caregiver exhaustion.
Support Groups & Peer-to-Peer Mentoring
  • Baptist Cancer Center THRIVE Survivorship ProgramComfort for Caregivers is a support group for caregivers offered virtually the first Friday of each month at 11 am. 
  • Cancer Survivors Network – A peer support community from the American Cancer Society for cancer patients, survivors,caregivers, families, and friends.
  • The Caregiver Space – A peer support community where one is able to ask questions about caregiving and connect withother caregivers through various private Facebook groups.
  • Imerman Angels – A free resource that partners anyone seeking cancer support with a 'Mentor Angel’. A Mentor Angel is acancer survivor or caregiver who is the same age, same gender, and most importantly, who has faced the same type ofcancer. Phone: (866) IMERMAN
  • Sail the C – A website where patients or family members can register and create a profile with their type of cancer. They will receive potential connections with others with the same type and stage of cancer, and build community
  • What Next – Developed in participation with the ACS, What Next is a free online cancer support network that connects patients based on diagnosis, to peers and resources. Cancer patients, caregivers, survivors and loved ones are askingquestions and providing insight, as well as sharing their experiences.
  • 4th Angel Mentoring Program – A free national service that emphasizes one-on-one contact to empower caregivers and patients with knowledge, awareness, hope, and a helping hand.
    • Mentees are matched based on their cancer experience.
    • Phone: (216) 445-8734