Partners, spouses, parents, adult children and friends of those facing a gynecologic cancer are invited to join us for a weekly Staying Connected support session, where you can share your thoughts, feelings and experiences in a safe and welcoming environment. Sessions are led by OCRA’s oncology social work team. Registration is required.
Cancer impacts not only those who are diagnosed, but also those around them. As someone who loves and cares for a person with gynecologic cancer, this may be an emotionally and physically taxing journey for you as you try to balance your own life and needs with those of your loved one.
OCRA’s Woman to Woman peer support program now provides support for loved ones of patients, survivors, and those who have lost someone to gynecologic cancer. Learn more and apply to be matched with a Loved One Mentor, or become a Mentor to others.
As a family member or friend of someone living with cancer, you may serve as a valuable source of emotional and spiritual support throughout your loved one’s cancer journey, often putting your own feelings and needs aside to prioritize those of your loved one. Caring for a loved one with cancer can allow you to better understand what your loved one is experiencing, help them make decisions, and assist with their physical needs during and after their treatment. It can feel good to be “doing something” while life with cancer can feel so uncertain.
But caregiving also involves challenging logistical responsibilities, such as appointment scheduling, communication with medical providers, medication management, transportation to treatment, and more. It is not uncommon for these experiences to impact other areas of your life, such as your career, education, and personal responsibilities. Caregiving may pose a financial burden as you take time off from work, coordinate childcare, or help with your loved one’s expenses. You may experience feelings of guilt over having to dedicate much of your time and attention to your loved one’s care, thus limiting your ability to be fully present within your other personal relationships. You may also find yourself forgetting or neglecting to make time for your own self-care while focusing on caring for someone else.
Such circumstances can lead you to experience feelings of anxiety, depression, and/or “burnout,” which may entail changes in sleep/eating habits, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, overwhelming fatigue, and more. The accumulation of these stressors can have a significant impact on your physical and mental wellbeing, thus hindering your ability to be present for your loved one in need of support. For these reasons, it is critically important for you to care for yourself, such as by taking regular breaks for socialization or “me-time,” asking for help when necessary, adhering to your own medical and mental health appointments, and connecting with others who can relate (e.g., by attending a support group).
For support and guidance on navigating your caregiver role and to learn more about our Loved Ones programming, please feel free to contact our oncology social work team at 212-268-1002.