Caring for someone close to you who has a gynecologic cancer can be stressful and difficult, and it’s normal to feel worried or scared. It’s also normal to feel angry, resentful, and guilty. Caregiver stress is real and it can be significant. Studies have shown that caregivers are at higher risk for medical problems and mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Both of you need support, encouragement, and attention to your physical and emotional well-being. So, make sure that you have your own support network— talk to people you trust, such as friends, family, co-workers, even a professional therapist or counselor, if needed. The Woman to Woman program is also a resource for you, and can provide you with support, including the opportunity to speak with other partners, family members, friends, and caregivers of gynecologic cancer patients, as you navigate through the treatment process.
It’s very important to look after yourself so that you can take good care of your loved one who is undergoing cancer treatment. This means watching your health and tending to your own needs. Keep your doctors’ appointments, get enough sleep, and eat well. Get some exercise – it will give you energy, relieve stress, and help you sleep. You might also want to try meditation to help reduce stress. Research shows that caregivers who practice daily meditation have lower levels of depression and better mental functioning. It’s healthy to schedule time for hobbies and leisure activities that you enjoy, or possibly plan a vacation with her, as it helps to have something to look forward to during and after treatment.
Consider taking a break if you need time to rest and recoup. Allow others to take over for you for a while. If you feel upset, overwhelmed, or exhausted, she may sense it and worry about you, and your support may be less effective and helpful. You will be a better caregiver if you take time for yourself.