Care for the caregiver

It’s important to take care of yourself.

Caring for yourself may be the last thing on your mind when you’re caring for someone with MBC. But the only way you can truly take care of someone is to make sure you take care of yourself, too.

Cancer is always in the background. It kind of is just creeping and underlying in every moment, every conversation, every experience.”

— Jamil
Angie's Story
Watch her story

It’s okay to reach out for support

You may feel like your needs aren’t as important as what your loved one is going through. You may even feel guilty that you can enjoy things but they can’t.

Asking for and accepting help from others are not a sign of weakness. In fact, it shows that you will do what it takes to help your loved one.

When you accept help from other people, it helps you in a number of ways.

  • It gives you a chance to focus on your own needs, like your job or your health
  • It gives you a chance for a much needed break
  • How you spend that time is up to you
  • Your loved one may feel less guilty about everything falling on you
  • The people helping you may have skills or resources you don’t have

Take time to turn inward

Make sure you can take some time for yourself to recharge. It’s important to look after your own physical and emotional health.

Simple ways to feel good:

  • Try to eat well and get enough sleep
  • Stay on top of your own doctors’ appointments, screenings, and medications
  • Reconnect with a friend
  • Find nice things you can do for yourself—go shopping, take a walk, get a manicure, or catch a movie

Watch for signs of stress

It’s not easy to be a caregiver. Many caregivers experience high levels of stress, which can possibly lead to health issues including depression, anxiety, weakened immune system, or a higher risk for chronic diseases.

Caregivers report much higher levels of stress than people who are not caregivers

Signs and symptoms of stress include:
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling isolated, alone, or deserted by others
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Becoming easily irritated or angered
  • Frequently feeling worried or sad
  • Having frequent headaches or body aches

Be sure to talk to your doctor about any symptoms you may have.

Some caregivers may feel overwhelmed by the amount of care their loved one needs

Talk through your feelings

When you’re trying to hold everything together for someone else, it’s important to be able to let your feelings out. It helps to find other people who understand what you may be going through and can share their own experiences and advice.

Joining a caregiver support group or finding a therapist or social worker to talk to can be rewarding.

Many caregivers find themselves reflecting on the meaning of life. You may want to find more spiritual comfort by connecting with your faith, religious organizations, spiritual leaders, or by praying or meditating.

Try to look for the positive and express your gratitude for even the smallest things that others may take for granted.

Explore MBC community organizations to find support groups and other resources near you.

You don't have to do this alone

Connect with support, your way, with the Facing MBC Together app.

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I’ve been on the caregiver side and you feel so helpless. It helps others to be able to help you. So just ask for help. If they wanna make you dinner, let them make you dinner. Just take advantage of it and live every day as best you can.”

— Angie

Looking for more caregiver resources?

Find information, tips, and more in this guide from ASCO Cancer.Net.

Download the guide »

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