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10 Ways to Help a Friend With Cancer

by Suleika Jaouad and Seamus McKiernan If it takes a village to raise a child, you might say it also takes one to care for the sick. Cancer is at once personal and communal. Disease lives in the sufferer’s body, but the experience of illness is shared, often intimately, by our loved ones. And yet, caring for the sick can feel like writing a travelogue about a country you’ve never visited. You can’t know where you haven’t been. “What can I do to help?” This is the sincere, often reflexive, response people have when they find out I have cancer. When I was diagnosed with leukemia last May at the age of 22, my boyfriend, Seamus, sprung into action as my CCO: chief caregiving officer, after my pa

In search of “ME” time

I’ve been thinking a lot about “me” time lately—definitely wanting more of it and trying to figure out how to get it, without a whole lot of luck. It finally dawned on me that at least one of the reasons I was having so much difficulty was because I wasn’t clear in my own mind about what I really meant by “me” time, what specifically I wanted it to do for me, and how much of it I needed at any particular time. I am certainly not alone in wanting more time for myself. Every survey that asks family caregivers what they want or need shows “time for myself” is high on everyone’s list. What we each do with the time we designate for ourselves is likely to be as different as we all are as human bei

Taking Care of YOU – Advice from Family Caregivers

Take care of yourself. These words are so easy to say, yet we all know that finding the time and energy needed to “take care of you” is something that many family caregivers find impossible to do. In an attempt to provide some inspiration from the people who truly understand your challenges, we reached out to your fellow family caregivers and asked them what they do to take care of themselves and protect their own health. Here are a few of their responses: I make sure that I have a few hours a week to do something that I want to do. I can’t always get away, but watching a movie on DVD or reading a book outside on the patio helps me to escape the everyday pressures of caregiving. – Karen Baca

Books to help you support a friend who is very ill or dying

Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying By Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley When Someone You Love is Dying…it’s hard to know how to help, what to do, what to say. Yet if we know how to listen and what to look for, the dying themselves can often supply the answers, letting us know what they need to hear and express to allay their fears and face death with serenity. For more than a decade hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley have tended the terminally ill. Now, in this moving and compassionate book, they share their intimate experiences with patients at the edge of life. Through these stories you’ll come to appreciate the near-m

Caring For Another and Caring For Yourself

Caregiving. The word brings to mind most beautiful images of compassion and self-sacrifice; cradling a newborn baby, comforting a person who is ill or dying, supporting someone who is bereaved. Healthy caregiving can bring out all that is best in us. And that is beautiful. But, there is another side to caregiving—a side we may not care to think about or talk about. Done without adequate rest or relief, caregiving becomes a chore and a drain. Done without proper knowledge and support, it becomes confusing and harrowing. Done without appreciation or understanding, it turns disappointing or disheartening. Most caregivers have little or no training or experience in providing personal attention f

A Caregiver’s Prayer

Dear God, help me better understand and believe I can do what needs to be done. Forgive me for the times, even now, when I question your judgment. As I go about the many daily tasks of caregiving, give me energy. As I watch my loved one oh-so-slowly walk across the room, give me strength. As I answer his/her repeated question just one more time, give me patience. As I look for solutions to whatever is the most recent concern, give me wisdom. As I reminisce with him/her about the “good old days,” give me moments of laughter over the fond memories. As I get to know my loved one in a new way, seeing both his/her strengths and frailties, give me joy. As I sit beside my loved one’s bed waiting fo

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