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Who’s Looking After You?

When someone you love has cancer, it can feel devastating. Whether it’s your partner, your child, your siblings or parents or even one of your friends, the emotional impact can be huge. You’ll likely go through a huge range of emotions, from shock and fear to anger and even denial. All of this is normal for both the person with cancer and those close to them.

If you are then providing care and support for that person, it can get even more complicated and emotional. And while there are a lot of resources and focus out there for the cancer patient, today we want to ask you, that carer, friend or family member living alongside them – who’s looking after you?

Why You Need Looking After Too

First things first, if you are looking after someone with a cancer diagnosis and they couldn’t manage without you, you are considered a career. It could be to a partner, family member, friend or even a neighbour, and the care you give could range from being a good listener to helping with personal care, providing transport, talking with healthcare professionals on their behalf or helping out with day-to-day tasks.

It’s a wonderful thing to do for someone you love, but it is also a demanding and draining role sometimes. And it’s all too easy for you to feel as though you aren’t seen, or that you don’t want to ask for help because the one you love has it worse than you. But it’s important to make sure your physical, mental and emotional health is being looked after too, so that you don’t burn out. It helps you stay happy and well, keeps you able to support your loved one and means you can still enjoy life with them.

7 Ways To Look After Yourself As A Carer

Take care of your own health: If you’re helping someone with cancer with medical matters, it can be all too easy to overlook yourself. There are so many appointments to go to, things to remember and new responsibilities that often carers will completely neglect their own health. Stay ahead of this by letting your GP know you are a carer. They will be able to give you support and advice and point you in the direction of resources that could be helpful. Make sure you go to any health appointments you have, including check-ups and screenings, and check if you’re eligible for a free flu jab in the winter. If you start to feel like you’re struggling or have problems with eating, sleeping or coping with your feelings, talk to your GP. Don’t suffer in silence.

Eat well: Eating well is incredibly important in looking after yourself, and it’s something that can slip through the cracks very easily. Try to eat healthy food and actually sit down to eat a cooked meal. If you’re struggling, ask a friend or family member to help you make and freeze meals in advance, so you can still eat well even if you’re too tired. Eating with friends or going out to dinner is good too, and a good way to connect and build your support network.

Try to Relax: We know that sounds silly, but try to relax when you can. Anxiety is common in carers for cancer patients, and you should try to keep that at bay as much as you can. Try relaxation techniques and breathing techniques, either on your own or along to an audio guide. Have a massage, do yoga or meditate – whatever you find helps you unwind when things are getting tense. And don’t forget that the MacMillan Information and Support Centres often offer free complementary therapies for carers, so it’s worth checking what your local centre provides.

Get Enough Sleep: Getting enough sleep can be hard if you’re caring for someone with cancer, but it’s vital for your health and mental wellbeing. This can be especially hard if you need to care for them during the night, so it’s worth looking into sleeping aids for you, and if your loved one needs overnight care seeing what your local social services or carers trust can provide.

Talk: We work with a lot of carers who say they don’t feel like they can talk about their feelings when they’re struggling. Because their loved one has it so much worse, they don’t feel like they have a right to feel sad or upset. But you have the right to feel any way, and being honest about how you’re feeling can make things feel better in itself. Remember that you’re going through the cancer journey too, and you both need support to help you cope. So even if you don’t want to unload on your loved one, talk to other friends and family about how you’re feeling, and develop ways of coping. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, there are support groups, online communities and helplines that will happily listen to your feelings and discuss them with you. A problem shared really is a problem halved, so try not to bottle your feelings up.

Take breaks: Taking breaks from your caring role is almost as important as doing the role itself. Take some time away for you, where you can not think about cancer and just enjoy yourself and your time. This could be on your own doing something you enjoy, or it could be as a family.

At Jill’s Fundraising Journey we’re here to help with the last one. We provide free holiday accommodation for those affected by a cancer diagnosis so that you can get away and have some respite time, enjoy the sea and the resort and generally recharge your batteries. After all, you need looking after too! If you would like to book your holiday, click here, or for ways to support our work at Jill’s Fundraising Journey, get in touch and speak with one of our team.


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