Cancer caregiving encompasses a broad spectrum of concerns. As a caregiver, you may find yourself taking on many roles and responsibilities.
Caregiving roles can include providing emotional support, physical care, cognitive/informational support, and acting as a medical researcher, financial manager, and advocate. They can also involve facilitating communication with medical professionals and other family members and assisting in the maintenance of social relationships.
Caregiving roles can be influenced by a number of different factors including how you entered into this role; your past and present relationship with the person; your personality and the personality of those you care for; your current life situation; the support or lack of emotional and practical support available to you; your financial resources; your own health; and the health and care needs of the person for whom you are caring.
The caregiving role may change over the course of the disease and treatment, as can the tasks that you take on. At the time of diagnosis, you may find yourself in “crisis” mode as you attempt to understand the full breadth of the disease. Eventually, most caregivers fall into a rhythm of care which can be a time to focus on other issues including balancing work and caregiving, maintaining a sense of quality of life, and engaging in self-care.
Balance work and caregiving
Caregiving can be a full-time occupation, even if you already have a full-time job. Despite competing demands, many cancer caregivers find work provides opportunities to connect with colleagues and friends, focus on something other than cancer caregiving and get involved in interesting and challenging projects. What’s more, work income can be important to help you to meet your financial obligations.
A Guide to Balancing Work and Caregiving Obligations (PDF; Canadian Human Rights Commission) is a great resource that clearly defines the role of the employer and employee in the eyes of the law.