More than 1 in 5 adults in the US are caring for a loved one(1). Many of them are caring for a loved one battling cancer. At Cancer Hope Network, we’ve seen a growing number of requests from caregivers and loved ones looking for support. As our current group of cancer caregiver volunteers continue to provide high-quality support, we are looking for cancer caregivers who would like to serve as volunteers.
The gift of caregiving
Cancer caregiving is a powerful gift, an opportunity to serve a loved one facing one of life’s great challenges. It’s inspiring and hopeful to help a loved one through the storm of cancer. Navigating appointments and making sure medications are taken on time and your support community is informed can be empowering (You’re doing something that’s tangible and helpful!). But it can also be terrifying (What if my loved one dies?) and lonely (I’m keeping a brave face because I don’t want my loved one to know how worried I am.) Caring for a loved one who’s been diagnosed with cancer can also be emotionally draining and professionally challenging (missing work! maintaining health insurance!).
Find organizations that provide resources for cancer patients and their loved ones.
The challenges of cancer caregiving
In the best of circumstances, cancer caregiving is isolating and scary, an emotion packed journey. But cancer caregiving doesn’t come to the best of circumstances. It is indiscriminate in who or when it hits. (WATCH: Caring for the Caregiver: Seeking Support Through Cancer Hope Network)
Life doesn’t magically become perfect when the doctor gives a diagnosis and longstanding family dynamics aren’t always smoothed with the addition of heartache. No matter how well meant, compliments and encouragement (“You’re so strong.” “They’re so lucky to have you.”) can’t keep your eyes open when you’re fighting exhaustion after your loved one had a rough night due to side effects.
Request a free & confidential caregiver support match.
Cancer caregivers sometimes fight and care in quick succession. CHN Support Volunteer Alyssa had just finished her own treatment for head and neck cancer when both parents were diagnosed with two different cancers. Caregiver volunteer Kaci supported her husband through his four-year fight with glioblastoma. Two months after his death, as her three small children began recovering, her mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer.
CHN’s peer mentors understand those competing emotions and contrasting realities. They are here to listen. They’re here to provide guidance, resources, and hope. They will remind you that while this may be your first time serving as a cancer caregiver, you are not the first. (Meet Pat, a caregiver helping others care for themselves.)
(Learn more about serving as a cancer caregiver mentor)
How caregiver volunteers can help
Serving as a peer mentor with Cancer Hope Network is a convenient, meaningful way to give back. For caregivers living with immunocompromised survivors, the fact that training happens online and matches are made by telephone make it an ideal virtual volunteer opportunity.
Support Volunteers help fellow caregivers learn the new language of oncology and deal with the wide range of emotions their loved one is feeling (READ: Reasons Behind the Rage from our community of survivors and caregivers).
Volunteers, along with our Programs Team, can help new caregivers find help and resources (CanCare offers social worker led case managment, Cancer Support Community offers tips for getting started as a caregiver, the American Cancer Society’s Caregiver Resource Guide includes a wide variety of resources – including information on respite care)
More than anything, Cancer Hope Network mentor volunteers are great listeners. They’ll help navigate the challenges of caregiving (for many folks, life before cancer didn’t involve quite so many ports or drains, an evolving number of prescriptions or quite so much puke) and provide the calm confidence of only a seasoned caregiver can.
Call 877-HOPENET (877.467.3638) to connect with a caregiver volunteer, or to start the process to become a volunteer.
- AARP, National Alliance for Caregiving. (2020). 2020 report caregiving in the U.S. caregiving.org. Retrieved 2022, from https://www.caregiving.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/AARP1316_ExecSum_CaregivingintheUS_508.pdf