A diagnosis of blood cancer dramatically affects the lives of families and all others who have a relationship with the patient. The patient and the entire family may experience an emotional, physical and, possibly, financial impact. Both patient and caregiver usually need to rearrange daily activities to some degree – changes that may not come easily.
WM is often treated on an outpatient basis, frequently leaving the responsibility for the details of patient management to a caregiver. Caregiving often starts gradually with tasks such as driving to medical appointments, shopping for groceries and housecleaning. Over time, this can even lead to round-the-clock care and can sometimes feel overwhelming. Caregivers tasks may grow to include feeding, bathing, supervising medications, arranging medical care and managing financial and legal affairs.
Care for the Caregiver
As a caregiver, you need as much information and support as the person with WM. After all, if you sacrifice your own health and well-being, you won’t be at your best to effectively care for a loved one. With careful planning, good self-care and knowledge of available help, your job can be less stressful.
As caregivers of a WM patient you are encouraged to:
- become knowledgeable about WM by reading IWMF publications
- attend the annual WMFC Educational Forum and/or the IWMF Educational Forum
- join a WMFC Support Group in your area
- contact one of the WMFC CANADIAN LIFELINE supports
- participate in WMFC Facebook or IWMF Connect
The US branch of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has published a Caregiver Workbook. The individual chapters and various worksheets are available online at https://www.lls.org/support-resources/caregiver-support/caregiver-workbook. As always, since this is a US publication, content on financial, legal, and insurance issues may not be applicable to Canadians. However, all caregivers will profit from its broad coverage of day-to-day living topics.