As we approach the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and during National Caregiver’s Month in November, Texas Oncology is highlighting the important – and often overlooked – role that caregivers play in supporting cancer patients.
Sugar Land residents Domingo and Laura Salcido are just one local example of a dedicated and loving patient/caregiver team.
When Domingo was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer and began treatment including surgery and chemotherapy, his wife Laura left her job as a nurse to take care of him. Since then, she’s been his “angel” – as Domingo says – and provided emotional and physical support. Laura sits with Domingo during every treatment, gives him injections, makes him eat and does everything she can to keep him going. Laura and Domingo’s two daughters also pitch in and help.
Nearly a half million Texans provide care giving support to elderly and ailing loved ones each year, including for the 110,000 Texans who will be diagnosed with cancer just this year.
In the last five years, an estimated half a million Texans were diagnosed with cancer. In most cases, a friend or loved one stands with them, to provide critical emotional and physical support and care that enables cancer patients to complete their treatment.
Through its pioneering community-based approach to treatment, Texas Oncology delivers advanced care locally – a significant advantage for patients who are able to stay connected to family, friends, support systems, and jobs.
Caregivers often provide both direct care (administering medications, providing meals, assisting with personal hygiene) and indirect care (errands, household tasks, transportation to treatment, financial and insurance management) and frequently over extended periods of time.
Thank a caregiver – every little bit helps
Support for caregivers can take many forms, but even a simple acknowledgement can make a big difference. Texas Oncology has created a downloadable thank you card to show your personal support for caregivers at www.TexasOncology.com/GivingThanks. Texas Oncology urges you to devote at least one hour of time this month to helping a caregiver, and offers the following suggestions:
• Say “thank you”
• Give a day off – guilt free
• Do something together that you both enjoy
• Drop off supplies for a favorite hobby (such as knitting yarn or a new book)
• Invite his/her children for a play date
• Pick up extra groceries on your next shopping trip
• Talk about something other than cancer
• Put together a package for writing notes, including stamps, pens, and assorted note cards
• Ask for a list and run errands
• Organize and schedule other friends to provide dinner
• Mow the lawn
• Donate house cleaning services or offer your own services
• Leave a basket of muffins or cookies by the front door
• Provide a favorite movie for the caregiver and patient to enjoy together
• Stay in touch and be a good listener
For more ways to help caregivers, as well as advice for new caregivers, visit www.TexasOncology.com/GivingThanks.
Additional insight and information is available from organizations devoted to addressing the needs of caregivers, including:
• The National Family Caregivers Association www.thefamilycaregiver.org
• AARP www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving/
• Family Caregiver Alliance www.caregiver.org
• National Alliance for Caregiving www.caregiving.org