CANSA's Holistic Cancer Care & Support

Caring for Caregivers Because You Care

Caring for Caregivers Because You Care

CANSA Care Week Online (1) postAfrikaanse Persvrystelling…

28th July 2014: CANSA places the spotlight on Caregivers this CANSA Care Week 1 – 7 August 2014. See activities at our Care Centres…

Who is a Caregiver?

A Caregiver is anyone who cares, without being paid, for a friend or family member who is fighting cancer and cannot cope without support.

“We feel that sometimes Caregivers’ loving care and support, which they lend to those affected by cancer, can go unnoticed. We really hope to change that; the wellbeing of a Caregiver is just as important as that of the Survivor they are caring for. This CANSA Care Week, we want to encourage everyone to celebrate and salute all Caregivers,” says CANSA’s Acting CEO, Elize Joubert.

Not All Caregivers Choose This Role

Caregivers come from all walks of life, all cultures and ages. Many feel they are doing what anyone else would in the same situation – looking after their loved ones, a best friend or even colleagues and just getting on with it.

Some Caregivers don’t choose to become Caregivers; it often just happens.

Joubert adds, “More than 60% of our volunteers are dedicated to helping our CANSA staff with our care & support service, as well as promoting health, while many also help with other projects.”

Caregivers Can Experience Compassion Fatigue

Many Caregivers often experience compassion fatigue when they neglect their own self-care, in favour of putting most of their effort and focus on caring for someone else – this is known as Caregiver burnout. Burnout describes the end result of stress in the life of a Caregiver and combines emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and low personal accomplishment.

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CANSA’s Top Tips for Caregivers:

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  • Find Support: Talk to others who are in a similar situation. This can help you to cope with common feelings of anger, guilt, isolation, fear, sadness, or anticipatory grief.
  • Know when you are stressed: Know the signs of stress (which include feeling exhausted; getting sick more often; sleeplessness; impatience, irritability, or forgetfulness).
  • Take time out: Make time for yourself and others. Although a person who has cancer may have many needs that require your attention, it’s important for you to make time for yourself. Spend time doing something you enjoy, with the people you love.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself: Be kind and patient with yourself. It’s normal to experience occasional bouts of anger or frustration, along with the guilt for having those feelings. Try to find a positive way to deal with these feelings.
  • Take care of yourself: Make time to exercise, eat healthy foods, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep.
  • Stay positive: Having a positive attitude can help set the tone for everything you do and take on.

Find more tips to avoid Caregiver Burnout in our ‘Who Cares for the Caregiver?‘ PPT…

Cancer Survivors Can Give Caregivers Recognition at CANSA’s Relay For Life

“A fun way for cancer Survivors and their Caregivers to get involved with CANSA and to receive the recognition they deserve, is through CANSA’s Relay For Life national project. It’s a unique event that is fun-filled, takes place overnight, where teams enter to raise cancer awareness and funds to fight cancer. The event emphasises cancer Survivorship, is volunteer driven and community owned,” encourages Joubert.

CANSA invites all Survivors and their Caregivers to a Relay in their community – a CANSA Relay For Life event opens with a ‘Survivors’ lap, that celebrates cancer Survivors. This is followed by a ‘Caregivers’ lap, to honour all Caregivers who lend care and support to those affected by cancer.

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One Comment

  • amwebb says:

    Thank you for identifying the need for mental support, many families cannot support their loved ones, as they have to cope themselves with the diagnosis. Cancer affects all family members and not only the patient. As a volunteer worker the love we receive in return from the patients is immensely greater than the support we offer by being just available and to listen to their wishes and life histories. There is always something positive growing out of this monstrous cancer condition; almost like a new life emerging with new hope, understanding purpose in life, families reuniting and many more situations being turned around. It is almost if people sit up and taking stock when the disease happens. All we can do is to say: Let me take your hand and we walk together through this valley – I am always amazed at the contentment we experience in patients.


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