Tuesday, October 9, 2018

this anxiety SUCKS.....

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So I don't know if it's because this is my second time around the old cancer floor or not, but the anxiety is real. I feel like its so much worse then the first time i was here. i mean most of it is probably because of my PTSD, right? I literally can't stop my mind from wondering. i think about everything and nothing all at the same time. ( Probably because i'm in a room 24/7)  and... the worst part is that i don't yet know if i will be in the hospital for the holidays!!!!! I am subconsciously freaking the F out! ( to say the least) 

I feel like I am the only person in my situation. However I know better. There are other mothers that have to leave there children to get healthy.There are other people that need to pick up the pieces that i can't. There is someone diagnosed with cancer, what every 3 minutes in the world? Why do I feel this panic? 

I have this rush of emotions coming over me like... you need to make sure this is done and this gets fixed and this has been signed and he has this for school and super mom comes out and I sit back and do my breathing exercises and try to calm myself down and try and remember that i'm stuck in this uncomfortable hospital bed. I have to trust my sons father wholly that he will make sure every minute detail is the way I like it, and that I need to just relax. That my job is to JUST RELAX.  ( where's the ativan?)

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↓This is the breathing technique I use!↓
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Wednesday, September 26, 2018


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So I thought that having cancer the first time was the worst thing in the world. Having to 
leave my son and be sick and not know what I was looking forward to day in and day out. Everyone telling me " you're so strong" but having no clue how that was going to help me in this situation. The unknown is the hardest part of all this. yeah I've had 7 brain surgeries and I've been through very many things in my life but i was never ready for cancer. I never thought I was able to see the finish line the first time ad was so beyond happy that I did but to hear those words " RELAPSE" just beat me right in my chest. 

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I think devastated is an understatement. I already know the treatment that I have to go through and I know how hard it is going to be on my little boy. The worst thing for me is having to leave my son home after feeling fine for the past 6 months. Its so upsetting. I know the pain i will have to endure. I know the aches i will go through and all the medication i will have to take. The bills that will pill up and the stress that goes along with it. 

This time around is a little different as i have to have a stem cell transplant, and i'm stressing over that a little bit. they are looking for a donor match for me that is a 10/10 match.But i know it will happen because my moms job is hosting a bone marrow drive so i have faith that i will find a match!!   

I go back and forth every day with happy and sad feelings its such a head rush. I try to  stay positive but its hard to sometimes. I know i went through this before but the feelings will never go away.
.. it truly doesn't help when people say 'oh you've done it before you can do it again'- i just wanna say  "o yeah Susan you smashed your can into a tree you did it before you can do it again!! like having cancer is something you can just go "do"
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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Supplements and Cancer

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Please consult your doctor before taking any supplements. DO NOT change your diet without asking your doctor first. 

Each of the vitamins listed below has an important job in the body. A vitamin deficiency occurs when you do not get enough of a certain vitamin. Vitamin deficiency can cause health problems. Web Source
Not eating enough fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains and fortified dairy foods may increase your risk for health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and poor bone health (osteoporosis).
  • Vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy teeth, bones, soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin.
  • Vitamin B6 is also called pyridoxine. Vitamin B6 helps form red blood cells and maintain brain function. This vitamin also plays an important role in the proteins that are part of many chemical reactions in the body. The more protein you eat the more pyridoxine your body requires.
  • Vitamin B12, like the other B vitamins, is important for metabolism. It also helps form red blood cells and maintain the central nervous system.
  • Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that promotes healthy teeth and gums. It helps the body absorb iron and maintain healthy tissue. It also promotes wound healing.
  • Vitamin D is also known as the "sunshine vitamin," since it is made by the body after being in the sun. Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine 3 times a week is enough to produce the body's requirement of vitamin D for most people at most latitudes. People who do not live in sunny places may not make enough vitamin D. It is very hard to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. You need calcium for the normal development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones. It also helps maintain proper blood levels of calciumand phosphorus.
  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant also known as tocopherol. It helps the body form red blood cells and use vitamin K.
  • Vitamin K is not listed among the essential vitamins, but without it blood would not stick together (coagulate). Some studies suggest that it is important for bone health.
  • Biotin is essential for the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, and in the production of hormones and cholesterol.
  • Niacin is a B vitamin that helps maintain healthy skin and nerves. It also has cholesterol-lowering effects at higher doses.
  • Folate works with vitamin B12 to help form red blood cells. It is needed for the production of DNA, which controls tissue growth and cell function. Any woman who is pregnant should be sure to get enough folate. Low levels of folate are linked to birth defects such as spina bifida. Many foods are now fortified with folic acid.
  • Pantothenic acid is essential for the metabolism of food. It also plays a role in the production of hormones and cholesterol.
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2) works with the other B vitamins. It is important for body growth and the production of red blood cells.
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1) helps the body cells change carbohydrates into energy. Getting enough carbohydrates is very important during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is also essential for heart function and healthy nerve cells.
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Will taking vitamins during chemotherapy help? Web Source - chemocare
✚Diet vs. supplements - the preferred choice to meet nutritional needs is from the diet.  The vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (a variety of compounds produced by plants) needed to help our bodies fight cancer are found in a well-balanced diet emphasizing plant-based foods.  According to the nutrition-based literature available, an inverse association has been noted between fruit and vegetable consumption and cancer risk.  In other words, eating more fruits and vegetables may lower your cancer risk.
It is difficult to determine if a specific nutrient is protective, or a specific combination and ratio of phytochemicals.  The ultimate goal is to maintain a well-balanced, plant-based diet, low in fats and sugars to help lower the risk of cancer.  Recommendations include at least 5 servings per day of a variety of fruits and vegetables with breads and starch consumption including 2-3 servings of whole grains.
In cancer research, the intake of individual vitamin supplements, as opposed to consuming fruits and vegetables, has not shown increased protection from these supplements.  In fact, three clinical studies were done examining the protective effects of beta-carotene and lung cancer, two of which found a higher association among cigarette smokers when beta-carotene was supplemented.  The third study showed neither benefit nor harm from the beta-carotene.   
✚Phytochemicals refer to a wide variety of compounds produced by plants.  They are found in fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, and other plants.  There are thousands of phytochemicals and they fall into groups such as the polyphenols (subgroup flavonoids), antioxidants (including carotenoids), and sulfides.  Phytochemicals have either antioxidant or hormone-like actions.
✚Flavonoids are found in soy beans, soy products, garbanzo beans, chickpeas, licorice, and tea.  These are estrogen-like substances from plants called phytoestrogens.
✚Antioxidants are commonly found in vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower.  There are many phytochemicals that fall into this category including carotenoids which are founds in carrots, yams, cantaloupe, butternut squash, and apricots.  The term antioxidant is often associated with vitamins and cancer protection. Antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids.  These nutrients are associated with a reduced cancer risk due to their ability to scavenge free radicals from our body.  Free radicals are reactive compounds that can damage normal cells.
✚Sulfides are found in garlic and onions and may have a role in reducing risk of stomach cancer.   These nutrients are found naturally in many fruits and vegetables.  Due to their protective association in food, researchers are trying to determine if this benefit exists with supplemental phytochemicals.
✚Herbs have been used for hundreds of years to treat disease.  Many are safe, and others may have severe and harmful side effects, and possibly interfere with cancer therapies such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and recovery from surgery.  A recent example has been the discovery that levels of chemotherapy were reduced in the body in people who were using the herb St. John's Wort.
Safety considerations are to tell your health care team about any herbal products you are using or are planning to use before, during, or after chemotherapy.  Ask your physician, nurse, or dietitian for reliable information about dietary supplements.  Stop taking the products immediately and contact your physician if you experience side effects such as wheezing, itching, numbness, or tingling in limbs. 
The jury is still out regarding supplementation of various phytochemicals and herbs to help prevent or fight cancer.  There are many studies being conducted regarding supplementing and/or megadosing different phytochemicals or herbs.  It appears that much of the encouraging herb / vitamin / cancer  data has been seen in animal studies, which do not necessarily cross over to human studies.  There isn't enough consistent and significant data at this point to draw any strong conclusions or associations to recommend the use of supplements. 

Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs and Chemotherapy / Radiation Therapy for Cancer
Research is underway to determine the safety and possible benefits in using herbs, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals during treatments.
✚Megadoses - The literature available has not proven that taking vitamins in small or large doses helps to prevent or reverse cancer.  Megadoses of vitamins can prove to be toxic or harmful in some instances.
✚Water-soluble vitamins are generally harmless due to our body's ability to excrete the excess vitamins as waste.  In some instances there can be negative effects, for example, high doses of Vitamin C can increase the risk of oxalate kidney stones, posing an increased risk for individuals with renal failure.  B6 (pyridoxine), even in moderate dosages, could result in nerve damage.
Quite the opposite of fighting diseases such as cancer, fat-soluble vitamins in large doses can become toxic, because they are stored in the body.  Vitamin A toxicity can lead to changes in bone development, an enlarged liver, anemia, and loss of hair.  High doses of Vitamin D can produce high calcium levels with calcifications in the kidney and blood vessels, and possibly result in osteoporosis.
Note:  We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice. 

The complicated relationship between immune system functioning and cancer is often misunderstood, according to Tim Birdsall, ND, the vice president of integrative medicine at Cancer Treatment Centers of America and a member of the National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine for the National Institutes of Health.
Your immune system is designed to recognize and destroy abnormal cells. But in many instances, especially in early stage cancers, the surface markers on cancerous cells are identical to those on normal cells, making it impossible for your immune system to recognize them as a threat.
Although boosting your immune system isn’t an actual treatment for cancer, it’s incredibly important as you fight cancer. Cancer patients are susceptible to infection from the disease, as well as from treatments that destroy white blood cells.
“Infection is a huge issue to cancer patients,” Birdsall says. “It is important to do things to boost the immune system and reduce the likelihood of infection.” - Web Source

✚“Vitamin D is of interest not so much because of results of clinical trials, but because of our evolving understanding of the key role it plays in cell [development] and the fact that so many people are really deficient in vitamin D,” says Tim Byers, MD, deputy director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center.
Epidemiological studies have found that people with cancer often have lower circulating levels of vitamin D in their blood. However, the research is mixed.
In a study presented at the 2008 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, researchers found that vitamin D deficiency was more common among women diagnosed with breast cancer. The study also found that vitamin D deficiency may raise the risk of breast cancer spreading, and raise the risk of death from breast cancer.
But in a large National Cancer Institute study, researchers found no association between blood levels of vitamin D and cancer death, with the possible exception of colorectal cancer. People with high levels of vitamin D were 72% less likely than those with low levels to die of colorectal cancer.
Also, some studies have found that vitamin D may protect against prostate cancer, while other studies have found that it doesn’t help.
There continues to be a flurry of research looking at vitamin D’s role in cancer. More research is needed to truly understand the relationship.
✚Many studies have found that people who eat a lot of garlic are less likely to develop certain common cancers.
That garlic research has led scientists to wonder whether garlic may have cancer-treating properties as well as cancer-prevention capabilities. Although studies are not yet conclusive, there is some evidence that garlic may be useful for cancer in conjunction with medical treatments.
For starters, garlic may be beneficial for cancer patients owing to its immune-boosting abilities, which vary depending on how the garlic has been processed. Additionally, certain substances found in garlic have been shown to suppress growth and fight certain cancerous cells in the lab, including forms of breast and lung cancer.
Early studies have shown that eating garlic can decrease the risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer. The same benefit was not found with garlic supplements. However, preliminary prostate cancer research on men in China has shown that both eating garlic and garlic supplements may decrease the risk of prostate cancer.

Green tea contains substances called polyphenols that are believed to have powerful anti-cancer abilities.
Cancerous tumors rely on fast-growing networks of blood vessels to sustain their rapid growth rate. Green tea compounds may possess the ability to help slow or prevent this rapid growth. “Green tea seems to inhibit the development of new blood vessels in tumors, and provides one more approach that can be used to strangle tumors,” Birdsall tells WebMD.
Because it would take the equivalent of drinking 10 to 12 cups of green tea each day to obtain the cancer-fighting levels of green tea compounds, Birdsall recommends that his patients take green tea in extract form. Be aware, there are some concerns about green tea extracts and liver toxicity. Also, a recommendation of 10 to 12 cups of green tea per day would be for cancer treatment, not cancer prevention.
Drinking green tea may increase the survival rates of some cancer patients. One study of women with ovarian cancer found that women who drank green tea were more likely to survive three years after ovarian cancer diagnosis than women who did not drink green tea. The survival rates increased with higher consumption levels of green tea.
Drinking green tea may also help prevent certain cancers. Preliminary research suggests a possible protective effect against bladder, esophageal, pancreatic, ovarian, and possibly cervical cancer, even with as little as 3-5 cups a day. Evidence for breaststomach, and lung cancer is mixed: studies have conflicting findings.
✚Extracts from mushrooms have been used in traditional Asian medicine for thousands of years. More recent scientific studies are beginning to determine reasons for their potential health-promoting actions.
For example, polysaccharides (phytochemicals) from the Ganoderma lucidum mushroom have been shown to inhibit the growth and invasiveness of some cancer cells in the laboratory, including certain forms of breast cancer.
Other fungal varieties that may exhibit anti-cancer activity include reishi, shiitake, maitake and coriolus or turkey tail, mushrooms.
Lentinan, a substance found in shiitake mushrooms, has been shown in the lab to inhibit the growth of human colon cancer cells in mice. This may result from lentinan’s ability to inhibit some enzymes that promote the activity of cancer-causing substances called carcinogens. Beta-glucan, a compound found in maitake mushrooms, is also thought to have tumor-fighting properties, though data on these abilities is still quite limited.
Keep in mind that the studies so far have looked at how these mushroom extracts affect cancer cells in the lab, with only a few documenting the effects in the human body. More research is needed.
Antioxidants are substances found in abundance in fruits and vegetables– and in lesser amounts in nuts, grains, and meat. These phytochemicals fight certain oxygen molecules in your body known as free radicals, which can damage DNA and contribute to the development and proliferation of cancerous cells.
Common antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, certain compounds in green tea and melatonin, a hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain.
The use of antioxidants for cancer prevention and treatment is a controversial and confusing topic. Although experts once believed that megadoses of certain antioxidants, including vitamins A and E, might be beneficial, clinical studies have raised questions about the safety of this practice. Studies have shown that high doses of certain antioxidants can increase cancer occurrence in some populations. For instance, smokers who take high doses of beta carotene are at increased risk for lung cancer.
Some experts worry that the use of antioxidants during radiation therapy and chemotherapy might serve to protect the very cancer cells that are being targeted. A 2008 study in Cancer Research showed that vitamin Csupplements blunted the effectiveness of chemotherapy by 30% to 70%.
Although more research needs to be done, there is data to suggest that antioxidant supplements may improve quality of life for some cancer patients. For example, the combined use of antioxidants in green tea, melatonin, and multivitamins containing high doses of vitamins C and E was shown to reduce pain and fatigue in patients being treated for pancreatic cancer.
In the meantime, there’s no doubt that a diet high in antioxidant-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, has numerous health benefits.
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Be sure to talk with your cancer treatment team before taking antioxidant supplements when you have cancer.

✓ Coping with Treatment Side Effects When You Have Cancer

People with cancer often turn to vitamins and supplements to reduce the side effects of cancer treatment: Nausea from chemotherapy, nerve pain, or debilitating fatigue.
Keep in mind, there are hundreds of chemotherapy drugs. The vitamins and supplements that may help you will depend on your specific treatment.
To optimize your health and reduce the risk of dangerous interactions, don’t take supplements for side effects without talking with your cancer treatment team. Your cancer doctors can help you develop a comprehensive treatment.
Nausea and vomiting are two of the most common side effects of chemotherapy for cancer. These side effects can be serious. Nausea and vomiting can lead to weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and fatigue, which can make it harder for your body to fight cancer.

There are a number of anti-nausea medications available. But some patients with cancer also find that using ginger, either alone or in conjunction with anti-nausea medicine, significantly reduces nausea and vomiting.

Cancer itself can cause fatigue. But this debilitating lack of energy can also be caused by cancer treatments. In fact, fatigue is a side effect experienced by nine out of 10 people undergoing cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, or radiation therapy.

These treatments can damage cells in your bone marrow that are responsible for making red blood cells and lead to iron-deficiency anemia. With this type of anemia your red blood cells do not contain enough hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout your body. Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, and iron supplements may improve the fatigue caused by iron-deficiency anemia.

“Someone with a high need for extra iron might take iron supplements,” says Byers, but most people can get the iron they need from food. One “trick” is to take vitamin C with meals in order to enhance the absorption of the iron in food.

Peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage, is a common side effect of certain drugs, including the widely prescribed chemotherapy drug paclitaxel.

“[Paclitaxel] can be used to treat a lot of different cancer types – lung cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer,” Birdsall tells WebMD. “The amino acid l-glutamine has been shown in numerous studies to be helpful at preventing or treating peripheral neuropathy – pain, numbness, and tingling – associated with [paclitaxel].”

L-glutamine, taken orally, has also been shown in one study to reduce the peripheral neuropathy associated with oxaliplatin
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✛Key Points to Remember When Considering Supplements for Cancer✛

  • Cut through the hype and obtain your information about cancer supplements from reliable sources. Beware of advertisements. There’s a lot of marketing hype out there.
  • No matter how harmless you think a vitamin or supplement might be, check with your doctor about potential interactions with your other treatments.
✓ Remember, the use of vitamins and supplements for cancer is largely based on short-term studies, done mostly in the lab. More studies are needed – and fortunately more research is on its way.

“Only recently are government agencies providing grants to do research on dietary supplements and complementary and alternative therapies,” says pharmacist and licensed acupuncturist K. Simon Yeung, the clinical coordinator of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center About Herbs database.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

If You're About to Become a Cancer Caregiver

 Caregiver is defined here as the person who most often helps the person with cancer and is not paid to do so. ... Good, reliable caregiver support is crucial to the physical and emotional well-being of people with cancer(Web Source)
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In most cases, the main (primary) caregiver is a spouse, partner, parent, or an adult child. When family is not around, close friends, co-workers, or neighbors may fill this role. The caregiver has a key role in the patient’s care. Good, reliable caregiver support is crucial to the physical and emotional well-being of people with cancer.
Today, most cancer treatment is given in outpatient treatment centers – not in hospitals. This means someone is needed to be part of the day-to-day care of the person with cancer and that sicker people are being cared for at home. As a result, caregivers have many roles. These roles change as the patient’s needs change during and after cancer treatment.
Caregivers serve as home health aides and companions. They may help feed, dress, and bathe the patient. Caregivers arrange schedules, manage insurance issues, and provide transportation. They are legal assistants, financial managers, and housekeepers. They often have to take over the duties of the person with cancer, and still meet the needs of other family members.
On top of the normal day-to-day tasks, such as meals, cleaning, and driving or arranging transportation, as a caregiver, you’ll also become an important part of the cancer care team. This busy schedule could leave you with no time to take care of your own needs. You also may feel the need to turn down job opportunities, work fewer hours, or even retire early to meet the demands of being a caregiver.
Here are some things to think about if you are about to become a caregiver for a person with cancer.
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What does it feel like to be a caregiver?

Despite the sadness and shock of having a loved one with cancer, many people find personal satisfaction in caring for that person. You may see it as a meaningful role that allows you to show your love and respect for the person. It may also feel good to be helpful and know that you’re needed by a loved one.
You might find that caregiving enriches your life. You might feel a deep sense of satisfaction, confidence, and accomplishment in caring for someone. You may also learn about inner strengths and abilities that you didn’t even know you had, and find a greater sense of purpose for your own life.
The caregiving role can open up doors to new friends and relationships, too. Through a support group, you can get to know people who have faced the same kinds of problems. Caregiving can also draw families together and help people feel closer to the person who needs care.
Caregiving can also be frustrating and painful. People caring for very sick patients may notice their own feelings of severe sadness and emotional distress. They may feel sadness and grief over their loved one’s illness and may also feel overwhelmed or frustrated as they try to manage many difficult problems.
Caregivers can develop physical symptoms, like tiredness and trouble sleeping. This is more likely to be a problem for caregivers who aren’t able to get the support they need, and who don’t take care of themselves – especially those who try to press forward alone, even as their own quality of life suffers.
Caring for someone going through cancer treatment can be demanding, but being good at it can give you a sense of meaning and pride. These good feelings can help provide the strength and endurance to continue in the role for as long as needed.

What if you don't want to be the caregiver?

It’s quite normal to feel overwhelmed, burdened, and even trapped at times while caregiving. If your family has had troubled relationships in the past, you may wonder “why me?” You may feel that the caregiver role was dumped on you without your consent. You may feel unprepared or even unable to manage the responsibilities and feelings that go with it. You may feel pressure from family members, friends, and members of the cancer care team to provide care, despite having little or no desire or ability to do so.
If you became a caregiver because of other people’s wishes, you need to think about how you feel about being pressured into caregiving. Mixed feelings at the onset of this role can lead to a greater sense of frustration later on. You should decide on your limits and make them known as soon as you can – before the demands of caregiving become a problem. It’s not easy to do this when others resist the change, and it can take a lot of courage to do it. If you know you’re going to meet with resistance, talk with the patient’s team social worker first. Or you can ask their doctor about a referral so you can talk with someone about the caregiver problem.
Addressing the problems early can help you and the patient get the help you need, and if you have to, make other plans for care. In situations like this, it might be helpful to find someone to help you with caregiving so that you know from the start that the role will be shared. It also may be better to find someone else to act as the primary (main) caregiver.

You’ll need to take care of yourself, too

It’s hard to plan for a major health problem like cancer. Suddenly you’ve been asked to care for the person with cancer, and you’re also needed to help make decisions about medical care and treatment. None of this is easy. There will be times when you know you’ve done well, and times when you just want to give up. This is normal.
There are many causes of stress and distress in cancer caregivers. Dealing with the crisis of cancer in someone you love, the uncertain future, financial worries, difficult decisions, and unexpected and unwanted lifestyle changes are just a few of them. Fear, hopelessness, guilt, confusion, doubt, anger, and helplessness can take a toll on both the person with cancer and the caregiver. And while the focus tends to be on the patient, all of this will affect your physical and mental health, too.


Depression is common in caregivers. But caregiving does not always cause depression and not all caregivers have the difficult emotions that go with depression. Everyone has emotional ups and downs, but if a person always feels down, has no energy, cries a lot, or is easily angered, it may be a warning sign of depression.
Many people see the feelings of depression as a sign of weakness rather than a sign that something is out of balance, but ignoring or denying these feelings won’t make them go away. Early attention to symptoms of depression can make a big difference in how the caregiver feels about their role and how well they can do the things they need to do.
There are ways to help reduce stress and remind you to enjoy life. They might help prevent a more serious depression that can develop over time:
  • Support from family and friends in caring for the patient
  • Exercise
  • A healthy diet
  • Spiritual support, such as religious activity, prayer, journaling, or meditation
  • Recreational time, when you can enjoy friends socially
  • Help from a trained mental health professional
But caregivers often focus on the person with cancer and don’t take care of themselves. You may be a caregiver, but you still have your own needs that cannot and should not be put aside.

Plan things that you enjoy

There are 3 types of activities that you need to do for yourself:
  • Those that involve other people, such as having lunch with a friend.
  • Those that give you a sense of accomplishment, like exercising or finishing a project.
  • Those that make you feel good or relaxed, like watching a funny movie or taking a walk.
Make an effort to notice and talk about things you do as they happen during the day. Watch the news or take time to read the morning paper. Set aside time during the day, like during a meal, when you do not talk about illness.
If you are concerned about your well-being, also see the Distress Checklist for Caregivers, and the Coping Checklist for Caregivers.

Getting professional help if you think you need it

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed sometimes by caregiver responsibilities. But if it becomes a constant problem, you may need to see a mental health professional. Below is a list of serious signs of trouble. Get professional help if you:
  • Feel depressed, physically sick, or hopeless
  • Feel like hurting yourself or hurting or yelling at the people you care for
  • Depend too heavily on alcohol or recreational drugs
  • Fight with your spouse, children, stepchildren, or other family members and friends
  • Are no longer taking care of yourself

Take a break or time for yourself

Most caregivers hesitate to take a break from their caregiving responsibilities, even for a short time. In fact, most would probably feel guilty if they did this. But no one can be a caregiver every day, 24 hours a day, for many months and even years. Try to get out of the house and away from your loved one every day – even if it’s only to take a short walk or shop for food. If you can’t leave the patient alone and don’t have friends or family to relieve you, you might want to look into getting help from respite caregivers.
Respite care
Respite care is the term used to describe short-term, temporary relief for those who are caring for family members who might otherwise need professional care. Respite is a short break from the exhausting challenges of being a caregiver. It’s been shown to help keep family caregivers healthy and improve their sense of well-being.
In most cases, the respite caregiver comes to the home and gets to know the patient, the family routine, and things like where medicines are stored. Sitter-companion services are one respite option. This is sometimes offered by local civic groups, church or religious groups, and other community organizations. A regular sitter-companion can provide friendly respite care for a few hours, once or twice a week. Be sure that the sitter-companion knows what to do if there’s an emergency while the caregiver is gone.
Another type of respite uses a specialized, local facility where the patient may stay for a few days or even a few weeks. This gives the caregiver a chance to take a vacation from caregiving and catch their breath, whether or not they leave town.
Depending on your state, Medicaid or Medicare may help cover respite costs. Also check with the patient’s health insurance to see what kind of respite help might be offered.

Know what you can’t do

Most importantly, don’t try to do it all yourself. Caregiving alone for any period of time is not realistic. Reach out to others. Involve them in your life and in the things you must do for your loved one.
Some caregivers feel they have to do it all alone. They may believe that, as the partner, sibling, son, or daughter they’re responsible for the sick loved one. It’s painful for them to admit that they can’t do it all and still keep their own health and sanity. They’ll bend over backward to meet their loved one’s every need. Some feel guilty if they can’t do it all and say they feel “selfish” if they ask for help.
Set realistic limits on what you can do. For instance, if you have a back injury, and/or if your loved one is too big for you to lift, you may be able to help them roll over in bed, but don’t try to lift them alone or catch them when they fall. (You may end up seriously injured or sick and become unable to help anyone.) There are ways you can safely help a person sit up or walk but you have to learn to do it without hurting yourself. This is where expert help is needed – home care nurses or physical therapists can show you how to do it safely. They can also help you get special equipment, if needed.
Your own health and safety must come first if you want to keep helping your loved one.
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    When you need help, reach out to others, including professionals. Talk with the cancer care team about what you’re doing and where you need help. Involve them in your life and your loved one’s care.

    Finding support for yourself

    The support of friends and family is key to both the person with cancer and the caregiver. There are many kinds of support programs, including one-on-one or group counseling and support groups. A support group can be a powerful tool for both people with cancer and those who care about them. Talking with others who are in situations like yours can help ease loneliness. You can also get useful ideas from others that might help you.
    Talk with a nurse or social worker or contact your local American Cancer Society to learn about services in your area. Talking with other caregivers can help you feel less alone. If you can’t visit a group in person, the American Cancer Society has the Cancer Survivors Network(CSN), an online community of people whose lives have been touched by cancer. Other organizations have internet-based groups and even online counseling, too. Through online or in person support groups, people can share their stories, offer practical advice, and support each other through shared experiences.
    Religion can be a source of strength for some people. Some members of the clergy are specially trained to help people with cancer and their families. People who are not religious may find spiritual support in other ways. Meditation, journaling, and being outside in nature are examples of different ways a person may feel they’re part of something greater than themselves.

    Ask others to help

    Caregivers need a range of support services to stay healthy, be good caregivers, and stay in the caregiving role. But they often don’t know where to go for help or how to accept help.
    Caregivers have been shown to have less distress and feel less burdened when they have social support. Human connections can help you stay strong. Let people know what you need and ask for help. You cannot and should not try to be responsible for all the caregiving by yourself.
    You need to know who you can talk to and count on for help. Families facing cancer can become stronger. If family members don’t offer help, or if you need more help than they can give you, you may be able to set up a circle of friends to help you. Church members, neighbors, and others may be willing to help. Include them in “family meetings.” Share information with them on the patient’s condition, needs, and care.
    Allowing others to help can take some of the pressure off and give you time to take care of yourself. Often family and friends want to help but may not know how or what you need. Here are some tips for including family and friends:
    • Look for situations where you need help. Make a list or note them on a calendar.
    • Hold regular family meetings to keep everyone involved. Use these meetings as updates and care-planning sessions. Include the patient.
    • Ask family and friends when they can help and what jobs they think they can do. You may also contact a person with a certain request. Be very clear about what you need.
    • As you hear back from each person, note it on your list to make sure they have taken care of what you needed.
    There are many online resources that can help you manage your job as caregiver. Some sites offer support for people caring for a loved one who has cancer. Other sites have features like group calendars to organize helpers and areas to create personal websites that concerned people can access for updates. MyLifeLine is one example.. Some of these also allow others to sign up for specific tasks when help is needed. Taking full advantage of the resources available to you is another way you can take care of yourself.

    Caring for your children during this time

    If you have young children, you’ll need to figure out how to take care of them and their needs while you’re caring for the person with cancer. Juggling children’s schedules and trying to keep their lives as normal as possible often requires a great deal more help from friends and family members. As you’re setting up care for the person with cancer, you might also need to tap into other parents and trusted friends and neighbors for help with your children.
    Children can sense stress in their family members and notice that there’s less time for them. They may start to have trouble in school or act like they did when they were younger. Even though your time is limited, you’ll need to take time to check in with them to learn about their fears and concerns.

    Being a caregiver and keeping your job

    Caregiving itself can be a full-time job, but many caregivers already have paying jobs. This can lead to work-related issues like missed days, low productivity, and work interruptions. Some caregivers even need to take unpaid leave, turn down promotions, or lose work benefits. The stress of caring for someone on top of worrying about keeping your job can be overwhelming. Dealing with these issues is important to both the employer and the employee.
    There will be times when there will be more demands on the caregiver, for instance, when the patient is diagnosed, getting cancer treatment, getting treatment for recurrence, or nearing the end of life. The employed caregiver may end up having to take time off from their paying job for caregiving.
    For people in certain types of jobs (temps, freelancers, consultants, entrepreneurs), this is very difficult. If they don’t work, they don’t get paid. For those with traditional jobs in larger companies, there may be benefits to help you take time off and still keep your job.
    Some people find that there’s no one else to care for the cancer patient on a long-term basis, and cut back to working part time. Some feel that they have to quit their jobs entirely. If you need to keep your job but the interruptions and time off are creating problems, you might want to look into a different schedule to fit the times your loved one needs you most. Some companies allow you to take some paid leave if you are caring for a spouse or close relative. You might be able to work half-days or split shifts, or take one day a week off for doctor visits, for example.
    If you need some time away from work, speak with your boss or benefits office. If your workplace has an Employee Assistance Program, look into what it offers. Some offer counseling services for money concerns, stress, and depression.
    The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees up to 12 weeks off per year to take care of a seriously ill family member (spouse, parent, or child). It only applies to larger companies, and not every employee qualifies for it. If you can’t or don’t want to stop working, you might be able to take unpaid time off under the FMLA.
    You may find that the people you work with treat you differently because of the time you must spend on caregiving tasks. This can affect you personally, as well as financially.

    Keeping your health insurance if you have to quit your job

    When caregivers quit their jobs, they usually lose their employer’s health insurance coverageas well as their source of income. It’s very important for you still to have some type of health care coverage. If you’re able to pay for your own insurance, COBRA will allow you to be covered for some months after you leave your job. Another option might be insurance from the Health Insurance Marketplace.

    If you make mistakes

    No matter what you do, you will very likely come to a point where you feel that you’ve failed in some way. It seems obvious that as a caregiver, you do the best you can. You try to include the patient, other concerned family members, and close friends in important discussions. You always try to make decisions that are in the patient’s best interest – decisions that you and the patient can live with. But sometimes you’ll feel that you could have handled a situation better or done something a better way.
    At these times, it’s important not to blame yourself. Find a way to forgive yourself and move on. It helps to keep in mind that you will keep making mistakes, just like everyone else. Try to keep a sense of humor about it. And try to recognize those things that you do well, too. These things are often easy to overlook. It also helps to keep in mind why you chose to take on this often difficult and stressful job.
    As a caregiver, you have an important and unique role in helping your loved one through their cancer experience. The American Cancer Society can offer you information, resources, and support. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 any day and any time you need help for yourself or your loved one.

    To learn more (WEB SOURCE)

    We have a lot more information that you might find helpful. Explore www.cancer.org or call our National Cancer Information Center toll-free number, 1-800-227-2345. We’re here to help you any time, day or night.
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    What is caregiver stress and burnout? Web Source

    Taking care of another person can be stressful. Everyone has some stress, but too much can harm your health, relationships, and enjoyment of life. Caregiver stress happens when you don’t have time to do all that’s asked or expected of you. You may feel like no matter what you do it’s not enough, or like everything is on your shoulders. Caregiver burnout happens when you are in a state of stress or distress for a prolonged period of time. Caregiver stress and burnout can affect your mood, and make you feel tense, angryanxiousdepressed, irritable, frustrated, or fearful. It can make you feel out of control, unable to focus, unsatisfied with work, or lonely. Caregiver stress and burnout can also cause physical symptoms like sleep problems, muscle tension (back, shoulder, or neck pain), headaches, stomach problems, weight gain or lossfatigue, chest pain, heart problems, hair loss, skin problems, or a colds and infections. It can lead you to abuse alcohol or other substances.

    Get help from a healthcare provider if you are:

    What causes caregiver stress and burnout?

    These things can lead to caregiver stress or make it worse:
    • Fear & uncertainty: Cancer treatment isn’t certain. It’s hard not to worry about the person with cancer, and the future.
    • Shifting roles: Caregiving can change relationships. This isn’t bad. But, it can be upsetting when someone who has been a source of strength is suddenly vulnerable, or when you find yourself making decisions somebody else used to make.
    • Too much to do: As a caregiver, you may feel overwhelmed by all you have to do, and as though everything is falling on your shoulders.
    • Financial pressure: The costs of cancer care can be a source of stress. Also, you and the patient may be unable to work full-time—or at all.
    • Loneliness & isolation: Caregiving takes time. You may find you don’t have time to spend with friends, take part in outside activities, or pursue hobbies.
    • Little time alone: Everyone needs time for themselves. This can be difficult to get when you are caring for someone with cancer.
    • Constant demands: Being on call around-the-clock can be especially hard.
    • Guilt: You may feel bad that you can’t give more, or you may feel that you are short-changing other family members and friends.
    While all these things are common among caregivers, there are things your can do to lessen your stress.

    How can I deal with my stress and burnout?

    Here are some tips for dealing with your caregiver stress or burnout:
    • Recognize the warning signs of stress early. Never dismiss your feelings as "just stress."
    • Ask for help with caregiving and accept it! Make a list of everyone who may be able to help you out. Make a list of the things that can be done by other people like running errands. Then, ask others to do things for you.
    • Talk to someone—a friend, counselor, family member, or clergy member.
    • Talk to a professional if your stress is becoming a problem.
    • Take care of yourself. Eat well, drink enough water and other fluids, and try to get some exercise every day, even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood. Get regular medical and dental checkup.
    • Identify sources of stress, and write them down. Think about the things you can improve. Try prayer and/or meditation to accept the things you can’t change.
    • Give yourself permission to grieve, cry and express your feelings.
    • Try meditation, yoga, music, or deep breathing to relax.
    • Join a support group like My Cancer Circle, which is especially for caregivers of people with cancer.
    • Focus on the positive. At the end of the day, make a list of the good things that have happened. Give yourself credit for what you’re doing. Forgive yourself when you don’t do things as well as you want. Remember that you are doing the best that you can.
    • Take time for yourself. Ask a friend or family member to stay with the patient or hire someone to give you time off to shop, go to a movie, or visit a friend.
    • Learn to say "no" when someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do, and/or that may be draining (like hosting a holiday meal).
    • Educate yourself. Get information from your doctor, the Internet, local library, book stores, or local support groups. This may help with feelings of uncertainty. You’ll find a list of valuable resources here.
    • Find someone who can help you understand all of the medical information. This could be a healthcare professional, someone in a support group, or someone who has been through the same thing. Keep a list of questions to discuss with the patient’s healthcare providers.
    • Make a list of priorities for each day. Set realistic goals.
    • Write about what you’re going through in a journal. This is especially helpful for feelings that you don’t want to share.
    • Try to plan for legal and financial matters. Planning now will lessen stress later. Involve other family members in these activities and decisions.

    When should I talk to my doctor?

    Call your doctor or 911 immediately if you feel like you could hurt yourself or someone else.
    Also, talk to your doctor if you are:

    this anxiety SUCKS.....

                                       So I don't know if it's because this is my second time around the old cancer floor or not, but ...