While I am happy to be there for
Jackie when she needs me, the
volume of doctor visits and tasks that
inevitably ends up on my plate can be
overwhelming at times.
Over the years, I’ve found these
techniques have helped me manage
my caregiving responsibilities:
Stay informed. Cancer treatments
and approaches continue to evolve.
In addition to reading materials and
online resources recommended by
your loved one’s doctor, seek out
information about treatments and
clinical trials on reputable websites
published by patient advocacy groups
and government agencies.
Be open to new technologies.
Wunderlist ( wunderlist.com) and
Todoist ( todoist.com) are apps that
allow you to create and share to-do
lists to stay organized and plan for
the days ahead. Because I set remind-
ers, I never miss an appointment or
forget to go to the pharmacy. Jackie
and I also use the cancer center’s
patient portal to keep track of test
results, schedule appointments,
request refills and connect with her
health care team.
Accept your new normal. Your
loved one has likely had to accept
that living with cancer won’t ever
be about getting back to normal;
it’s about learning what’s normal
now. You also need to adapt to your
new normal as a caregiver. For me,
that’s meant working on letting go of
certain expectations. I enjoy hiking
and kayaking, activities that are too
physically straining for Jackie, so I do
them solo or with friends.
Set personal health goals. I’m
hyperfocused on my partner’s health,
but not nearly enough on my own.
This year, I’ve made it a priority to
take better care of myself. I’ve set
goals to establish a good sleep routine,
find time to be physically active most
days of the week and make sure I don’t
let my own medical care slip.
Know your limits. Important
advice for any caregiver, but especially those caregiving for a long time,
is to give what you can, when you
can. For me, that means saying no
sometimes and making time to relax
and recharge. You’ll find it takes far
longer to reach your limits when you
set aside time for yourself.
Be flexible. Your caregiver role
may change over time. Your loved one
will need you at certain times more
than others. Unfortunately, these
moments are not always predictable.
Plan for what you can ahead of time.
For example, learn about expected
side effects of new treatments or who
you will call if you need help.
Know that your best is enough.
The reality is that it’s hard—and
sometimes feels impossible—to
juggle family, work and personal
responsibilities while still being the
caregiver you want to be. Don’t beat
yourself up when you can’t meet your
own expectations. You still have
tomorrow to try again.
AIMEE SWARTZ is a writer based in
CAREGIVING WITH CONFIDENCE | AIMEE SWARTZ
PHO TO COUR TES Y OF AIMEE S WAR TZ
IN FOR THE
When cancer becomes a chronic condition, caregiving requires adjusting to a new normal.
Thanks to new treatments, more people are living longer with cancer than ever before. In fact, some patients may be able to manage their disease as a
chronic condition even though the cancer will never go away.
For example, my partner, Jackie, has been taking various
treatments to help control her multiple myeloma for 13 years.