Category Archives: Caregiving

Making End-of-Life Plans

By Agnes Beasley, MSN, RN, OCN

A lot of us are planners. We plan work projects, celebrations, careers, family vacations, and retirements. However, the one area that most of us avoid thinking about, much less planning, is the end of our life. After all, we don’t plan on having a terminal illness. We don’t plan on dying any time soon. Decisions about end-of-life care are deeply personal, and are based on personal values and beliefs. No one wants to think about end-of-life issues when there are so many other happier activities to fill our calendars.

Still, at some point in time many of us will face making decisions about the dying process. How do you bring up the topic? When do you bring up the topic? Who do you talk to? Thinking about your end-of-life wishes, also known as advance care planning, can be hard and overwhelming. Most people expect their doctors to start the conversation about end-of-life planning – but only when it’s necessary and not a moment sooner! That’s especially true for people with cancer, especially when treatment may no longer be working. Many cancer patients and close family members may be thinking about discussing end-of-life issues with their doctor when the time comes, but where do they begin?… Continue reading →

Caregivers, Say Yes to the Holidays

By Joleen Specht, CHP

The holidays are coming, the holidays are coming! For many the response may be an “Aaaah” (soft, warm sigh). For caregivers, however, “AAAAAHHHHH!”(loud, shrill scream) may more closely resemble the initial response. Caring for a loved one during the holidays can bring to the surface so many different emotions. Some people wear themselves out trying to do everything, and others wish to skip the holidays altogether. 

It’s okay to long for memories of holidays past, when things seemed easier. Although, if we are honest with ourselves, those warm, fuzzy memories are likely skewed. Let’s face it; no matter your lot in life, the “perfect” holiday exists only in Norman Rockwell paintings. The warmth of a cozy fire in the fireplace and the smell of cinnamon apple cider may have been a reality in the past, but as a caregiver of a loved one with a serious illness, your holiday may exist in a new reality. 

This doesn’t mean all is lost. Holiday joy doesn’t have to depend on doing everything the same way it has always been. It’s okay to make some changes. Start small, start simple. Here are some ways to make this holiday one to remember: [more]

Learn To Say Yes

I know, I hear you saying, “Wait a minute, we have been told the opposite; learn to say “NO.” However, since your loved one’s diagnosis, you probably have been forced to say no-to a lot of things.… Continue reading →

Holiday Eating Tips If You’re in Cancer Treatment

By Michele Szafranski, MS, RD, CSO, LDN


We all have wonderful food memories associated with the holidays. Maybe it is a favorite dish made by a loved one or a special memory of decorating cookies with your grandchildren. But during cancer treatment, visions of sugar plums may bring anxiety. When you are having trouble eating or keeping food down, the thought of holiday gatherings and meals can fill you with dread. There are a few things to keep in mind that might be help you get through these occasions with reduced stress.

Celebrating doesn’t have to be stressful

What can you do to make a holiday gathering less stressful? First, don’t be afraid to tell people you aren’t up to your usual celebration. Delegate if you are hosting the party. People always want to know what they can do, so give them specific dishes or tasks to take some of the pressure off.  If you have a dish you are known for, focus your energy on that one dish and let others take care of the rest. If you aren’t up to cooking, pass the beloved recipe to a friend or loved one for them to try.  Offer to bring drinks, paper goods, or the centerpiece for the holiday table.… Continue reading →

Crisis, Opportunity, Communication

By Greta Greer, MSW, LCSW

In my last blog, I provided general tips for communicating with someone diagnosed with cancer. In this blog, I talk about the added importance of good, open communication when you are caring for a loved one with cancer.

When it comes to being a cancer caregiver, I’ve found that caregivers often have the same questions and concerns as the person with cancer. Is he [am I] going to die? What if I can’t handle this?  Where’s the money coming from for treatment? Is the cancer his [my] fault? I told her to go [I know I should have gone]…to the doctor… stop smoking… lose weight…get a colonoscopy, mammogram, Pap smear…use sunscreen!  I’m so angry…scared…overwhelmed. Is cancer contagious?  However, both those with cancer and those who care about them may not share these concerns with one another. Why is that? [more]

You may be afraid that expressing your fears, saying the words out loud, can actually make them come true. You might try to shield your loved one from your feelings and concerns. However, failure to deal with them can affect good communication…and relationships.

The closer you are to someone with cancer, the greater the impact will be on you personally.… Continue reading →

Cancer Caregivers, Don’t Forget Yourselves

By Greta Greer, MSW, LCSW

Taking care of someone you love who has cancer is one of the most important roles you’ll ever have. It could also be the most difficult one.

Stress is one of the most common challenges that caregivers face, especially those caring for someone with cancer. It’s not easy learning to balance all your regular responsibilities, help your loved one, AND take care of your own health and well-being.  

As a result, caregivers often ignore their own physical and emotional health. It could be because they have less time, are too stressed, have less money, feel guilty for taking time for themselves, or simply forget.  Whatever the reason, it puts caregivers at much higher risk for health problems than people who aren’t in a caregiving role. [more]

You may be surprised to suddenly realize that it’s been ages since you spent a day out with friends, had a good night’s sleep, or simply enjoyed an entire meal without interruption.  And what’s going on with those tight muscles, wandering thoughts, or uncomfortable feelings?  

If you don’t know, it’s no wonder!  The more caregiving tasks and regular responsibilities you have to juggle – job, kids, parents, meals, finances, insurance and a hundred other important tasks-the easier it is to lose track of yourself  in the midst of it all.… Continue reading →