A hand holds up two hearts hugging each other.

What About the Caregivers?

When someone is diagnosed with lung cancer, the focus is all on that individual, which is understandable because that person's life has been interrupted and turned upside down. But also their spouse or partner and family, so their lives must be somewhat re-arranged.

Being diagnosed with lung cancer seems to put a pause on everyone's lives, not just the person who was diagnosed.

The overlooked role of caregivers

Yes, the newly diagnosed lung cancer patient needs lots of help, support, and love, but what about the caregiver? Many forget that the caregiver plays a big and important role.

We lung cancer patients carry fear and worries, not to mention uncertainty about their future. But so do the caregivers; we also forget they are scared and worried. Not knowing how much time they have with their loved one who was just diagnosed with lung cancer.

When I was diagnosed, my poor husband had such a heavy burden on him. Dealing with my diagnosis, lots of doctors' appointments, getting ready for my treatments, coping with being sick from chemo, making sure our kids were okay and getting to school, and dealing with his job about taking some time off.

It was a lot on him, and even though the focus was all on me, only a few who understood asked him if he was okay. Caregivers are also going through what we are going through living with lung cancer. It's just in a different way!

The hidden struggles of caregivers

Many don't understand the stress it has on them, and we all know stress can kill us. They, too, need support, help, and lots of love.

They are also depressed and angry, and some don't know how to deal with it or where to turn to. It is very important that they, too, get the attention and care they need.

My husband was suffering inside and did not have anyone to talk to. Yes, he had friends and family, but not someone who has gone through it and can sincerely understand what he was feeling. However, the cancer center I was at had a wonderful program for caregivers.

Not only did they focus on their cancer patients, but they also focused and provided help to their caregivers. I wish all cancer centers and teaching hospitals did the same because our caregivers matter, too. They're suffering with us.

I remember when my husband was with one of the counselors for caregivers, and he shared a story with my husband. He told my husband there was a couple that were at the cancer center; the wife was diagnosed with cancer, and the husband was devastated.

He was so devastated that he dropped dead right in front of his wife and her team. The stress and the devastation caused the gentleman to have a massive heart attack. That is when they realized we must do something for caregivers, and they started that counseling program for caregivers.

Advocating for better support

It's been almost ten years since my diagnosis, and we've noticed caregivers are getting more attention, but not as much as they should. We've noticed it more in lung cancer organizations, but they must do more for caregivers.

They truly deserve the recognition, and they do a lot for their loved one who is fighting lung cancer. Also, the medical industry, especially for cancer, needs to start focusing on caregivers' mental and physical health.

Tell your caregiver how much you appreciate them. Let them know they matter too, and they are not unnoticed.

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