While cancer patients obviously have many challenges to deal with while fighting their disease, the unique needs of caregivers, often a spouse or other relative, are sometimes ignored. As Houston Public Radio’s Jack Williams reports, a new trend to address those needs is making some local cancer caregivers feel better.
For the past seven years, Rogers Duplessis has been at his wife Janice’s side, doing what he can to help her in a battle against breast cancer.
“It’s been an experience dealing with it from a caregiver’s perspective because we play a vital part in the recovery of the loved ones.”
Duplessis has formed a caregivers support group, called Lean On Me, that meets at the VA hospital twice a month. He says caregivers face difficult challenges in what can be an emotionally and physically draining recovery process for their loved-ones.
“You have a job and you have to deal with the treatments of your loved one and you have to put all that in perspective and so it’s difficult but you need space, you need time off and if you have a good support group it works, but if you don’t, the support group plays a big factor in moving you on.”
Rosine Chappell cared for her husband during his 10-year battle with cancer and faced some of the same challenges.
“Keeping up your positive attitude, despite the fact that you know you’re worried and you don’t know what to do next sometimes, but you still have to keep up a good front for them to give them that support, so that part is very difficult.”
Chappell and many others have taken advantage of MD Anderson Cancer Center’s network of caregiver support groups. Marisa Mir is a program director with the Anderson Network and says providers realize there’s a need for caregiver support.
“Especially with bone marrow transplant and stem cell transplant, that is definitely a 24/7, they have to be there all day, all night long caring for their patient because they are part of the loved ones care team. Sometimes we just need them to come out of that setting, even if it’s just an hour, to take a little bit of a mental break, a spiritual break.”
Mir and hundreds of care providers and cancer survivors are attending the 19th annual Living Fully With and Beyond Cancer Conference through tomorrow at the Houston Marriott Westchase. There’s more information about the conference and caregiver support groups on our website, KUHF.org.