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Buddy Check 7: Getting help for cancer caregivers

Caring for someone with cancer can be hard, now there’s help for those supporting a patient.
Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 7:27 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - After a breast cancer diagnosis life can suddenly come to a stand still. But often it’s not just the cancer patient who has their life turned upside. Now there’s help for caregivers.

Dr. Jennifer Michels is a Clinical Psychologist at Marshfield Clinic. About 50 to 75 percent of her day is not only spent working with breast cancer patients but their adult loved ones as well.

"Caregiver distress is huge. We often think of the patient themselves but their family members, their caregivers are right along with them for this journey. And they can often experience more distress themselves because they are in this role of baring to witness to of this cancer journey.

According to Dr. Michels, a healthy support system, outside of medical care, is critical for the successful treatment of cancer. However being a caregiver has it’s own challenges. Caregivers can suffer from physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. So getting help from a psychologist can be the most helpful thing thing loved ones can do for the patient in their lives.

“Often caregivers are reluctant honestly to engage in the services because they’ll say, ‘no no, this isn’t about me.’ But if they engage in services often they will say it can be helpful to learn how to just learn how to communicate about this within the family, how to debrief how to cast off stress. How to take care of themselves so they can stay strong and resilient to help their loved one through the treatment, "said Dr. Michels.

A Caregiver is a general term referring to anyone who provides care for a person who needs extra help. That can be a spouse, partner, child, parent or close friend.

According to Dr. Michels, upwards of 70 percent of cancer patients, at some point during treatment or during after care, will experience the symptoms of anxiety and depression in relation to their diagnosis. Which makes a strong health support system at home that much more important.

WSAW Buddy Check 7
WSAW Buddy Check 7(WSAW)

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