As a family member, friend, or caregiver to a person with cancer, you may be asked to take on new responsibilities at the same time that you are processing information on an emotional level.
You may have to learn about the disease that your loved one is suffering from, for example, and how it is treated. This might involve learning new skills and giving medicines. You may need to provide physical care and help manage symptoms, such as pain or nausea.
In fact, providing care to a loved one can seem like a full-time job, one that is often performed in addition to paid employment and other important responsibilities. For many, the stress of caregiving can easily become overwhelming, resulting in symptoms that range from mild distress, fatigue, and irritability to severe anxiety and depression.
At Memorial Sloan-Kettering, we offer information, services, and support designed to help you as much as possible in this caregiver role. Many helpful resources and advice is available in our guide for caregivers.
If a family member or friend is leaving the hospital and requires extra help at home, including home care or other aftercare, equipment, or supplies, please speak to the case manager on his or her floor in charge of discharge planning.
Our Caregivers Clinic, housed in the Counseling Center, provides individual and group therapy to family members and friends of patients at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. The purpose of the Caregivers Clinic is to help caregivers maximize their ability to provide care to their loved one with cancer while attending to their own self-care, needs, and other important responsibilities. To make an appointment, please call 646-888-0200.
Caregiver support groups are available for family members and friends who handle the responsibility of caring for a cancer patient. Join in these supportive meetings to share your feelings and concerns. To find out about these caregiver programs, ask the patient's doctor, nurse, or social worker or call the Department of Social Work at 212-639-7020.
Online monthly support groups are also available for caregivers of adult Memorial Sloan-Kettering patients in active treatment. These meetings occur the last Wednesday of the month from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM. To learn more about our program, please contact us at VirtualGroups@mskcc.org.