Caregivers give. It’s what you do. Some amazing people in this world choose to be caregivers. They’re the professionals – the doctors, the home health nurses, the radiation technicians and all the others who mesothelioma families come into contact with. But then there are all of you. You didn’t ask for this. You didn’t expect a husband or wife, a parent or offspring to develop mesothelioma but there it is. It’s your reality now so you are doing what you need to do.
But a strange thing happens when family members become primary caregivers. They often stop taking care of themselves. They sacrifice their own needs to be available to the one they love who is suffering from mesothelioma. What caregivers often fail to realize is that by depleting yourself, you risk not being able to continue being the caregiver your loved one needs. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. It’s important not only for your own well-being but to those who depend on you. Solid scientific evidence shows that caregivers are at higher risk for many health problems and even premature death due to their stress levels and neglect of their own health.
Because of the vital but often overlooked needs of caregivers and to celebrate caregivers for all they do, one of the leading cancer centers in the US has declared November 11 – 15 as Caregiver Week. It is being presented by the Anderson Network, a cancer patient and caregiver support network of the University of Texas’s MD Anderson Cancer Center, a degree-granting academic institution and cancer treatment and research center located at the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas. MD Anderson is widely regarded as the best cancer hospital in the United States.
Caregiver Week consists of events and activities that concentrate on the educational, psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical needs of the caregiver. Activities throughout the week will provide family and friends caring for cancer patients the opportunity to meet with other caregivers, to share unique concerns or just to share a cup of coffee or lunch.
Don’t live in Houston? Why not take a look at the list of planned activities and see what the experts have chosen as good options for caregivers? You might find something you can do for yourself in your own community. Yoga, massage, a lunch or coffee date, writing in a journal or a fun art class are all types of activities offered that you can do on your own with equally good results. So take some time this week to celebrate yourself for your role as caregiver. Both you and your loved one with mesothelioma will benefit.