Lung Cancer


Being a caregiver for a loved one with lung cancer will draw on many of the skills you already possess, and you will likely learn some new ones along the way. You will find this valuable role takes patience, flexibility and warmth, along with organizational skills. It is essential to remember to accept support and make time for self-care. Don’t try to shoulder everything alone.

Following are some of the key responsibilities you may take on as your loved one’s caregiver and ways to care for yourself.

Caring for your loved one Caring for yourself
Ask your loved one for their input. This may be new territory for you both. You don’t want to “overhelp” and take away independence, so it is important to have a frank conversation about needs. Stress management. Do whatever gives you comfort and relief. Giving yourself some alone time, even for a few minutes, can clear your head. Yoga, journaling, crafts and walking are a few examples of ways to reduce the stress and anxiety that often accompany this role.
Do your research. Learn about this type of lung cancer diagnosis and treatment plan. Healthy eating. You are likely preparing nutritious meals and snacks for your loved one. Follow your own lead, and eat the same healthy foods. If you need help planning meals, ask your loved one’s health care team if a dietitian is on staff.
Get the “OK” to receive and share HIPAA-protected information. This includes medical information about your loved one that is shared in person, by phone, using the portal, via telehealth, if available, or in other ways. Maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Getting a good night’s sleep is important for your mind and body.
Introduce yourself to the team. Building strong relationships with the health care team paves the way for better communication. Preventive health care. Schedule and keep your own medical appointments and preventive screenings. You won’t be an effective caregiver if your own health is suffering.
Attend medical appointments and drive, if needed. Ask questions, and take notes. Building strong relationships with the health care team paves the way for better communication. Delegate tasks. Accept offers of help from trusted friends and family. Create a list of tasks that can be done by others, such as grocery shopping, meal preparation, house cleaning, lawn mowing and snow shoveling, pet care and carpooling.
Track and give medications. Note side effects and symptoms, and share this information with the health care team. Know the situations that warrant a call to the doctor. Stay social. Though your schedule may not be as full or as flexible as before, it is important to keep up with your relationships. Connect with friends and continue doing the activities you enjoy.
Update family and friends. Email or online updates allow everyone to hear information at the same time. Support resources. Support groups, whether in person or online, are valuable because you can learn a lot from others who are in similar situations. If you prefer to talk one-on-one with someone, find a therapist who has experience working with people who care for loved ones with cancer. With these helpers and your friends and family members, you should never feel alone.
Help with personal care. This may include assistance with bathing, getting dressed and other personal needs. Self-care. Pamper yourself. Get a massage, manicure or pedicure, or enjoy a nap to rejuvenate yourself.
Perform household tasks. This may include laundry, shopping, cleaning and lawn care. Pursue a hobby or creative outlet. These activities offer a mental break from the stress caregiving can cause.
Encourage activity. Even low levels of exercise can help reduce fatigue and improve emotional well-being. Exercise. Even a daily 10-minute walk can rejuvenate your mind and your body.
Understand how to operate breathing equipment, such as an incentive spirometer or supplemental oxygen. Learn to operate a backup oxygen tank in case of a power outage. Be kind to yourself. Self-compassion is important for taking care of yourself. Give yourself credit for managing the tough, complex work of caregiving.
Organize insurance bills and paperwork. Develop a system that is easy to maintain. Also work with your loved one to prepare an Advance Directive, Living Will, Will and Power of Attorney. Watch for caregiver burnout. Pay attention to when the responsibilities become too much to handle. Red flags include being impatient, irritable, lonely or overwhelmed.