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What does it mean to be a caregiver?

A caregiver is anyone who provides physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, or logistical support to a loved one with a chronic, disabling or life-threatening illness, like cancer.

You may be someone who thinks the term “caregiver” sounds very official and doesn’t describe what it means to take care of someone you love. If that’s the case, you are not alone. Or, you may be thinking: Why even talk about caregivers? This isn’t about me; this is about my loved one who is facing cancer. You may even believe that drawing attention to your own needs will somehow detract from the efforts to help your loved one.

The thing is, in order to help your loved one manage a cancer diagnosis and treatment you will need to care for yourself, too. By thinking of yourself as a caregiver, you give recognition to the important role you play. It also allows you to be an active participant and essential team member in the fight against your friend or loved one's cancer.

Joining a caregiver support group may also be helpful. Cancer Support Community affiliates offer free support groups and educational programs for caregivers. Online, you will find The Living Room, free professionally-led, password-protected support groups for caregivers. You can learn more about joining an online support group here.

Ten Tips for Caregivers

Caregivers: Join the Cancer Experience Registry