Support for Caregivers

Family and friends of ATC patients experience many emotional ups and downs and a whirlwind of activity and emotions.

No one person can be the patient’s sole support. Caregivers must care for themselves so that they can support the patient.

Often, services are available for respite care, in which a volunteer can stay with a patient for a period of time to give the caregivers a break.

For more thoughts on support for caregivers, see the section titled ATC Caregivers’ Support.

Reprinted from ThyCa's Membership Messenger Newsletter, Summer 2003: A Legacy of Hope Lives on in Cheri Wallace Lindle and ThyCa's ATC Listserv

ATC Caregivers’ SupportComments from a Caregiver

As far as caregiver support is concerned—this is so important. If we are not well, we can't think clearly and can't help our loved patient.

I have no siblings— just me….However, I do have a support network of a Health Care Manager I'd hired last August, plus help around Dad's house, plus friends and cousins whom I talk to every day. I have lunch every day with Dad, but don't always have dinner with him. I've started weekly massage and Reiki sessions (which I highly recommend to restore your depleted energy!)

Care of the Caregiverby Patricia Scott, R.N., B.S., M.B.A.
at the 8th International Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Conference
October 21-23, 2005

About the author: Patricia Scott, B.S., R.N., M.B.A., led caregivers sessions at the 6th and 8th International Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Conferences. She started her nursing/research career 20 years ago at the Cancer and Treatment Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She later specialized in women's and infants' health care at the University of Colorado Hospital, Denver, Colorado, until her husband David was diagnosed with Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer in March 2002. She turned her energy toward learning and researching about thyroid cancer and became her husband's primary caregiver and advocate, until his passing on February 28, 2003. Patricia now is on the Golden, Colorado Chapter of the Board of the American Cancer Society; helps with the local ThyCa support group in Denver, Colorado; and continues to be involved as a volunteer for ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association, Inc., supporting and helping survivors, caregivers, and families.

The word "extraordinary" comes to my mind, to say the least, whenever I think of a caregiver.

For the most part you inherit this position. It shows up at your doorstep, sometimes unannounced due to a series of circumstances. Or you may freely volunteer for this position.

No matter how you acquire this position, it will partially or totally change your life forever………..

Once we're placed in this position, for most of us, it totally changes the focus of our lives. In other words, we put our needs, wants, goals, and dreams aside, for the needs, wants, goals, and dreams of our loved one.

You sometimes, without even knowing it, become part of that loved one….You eat, sleep, breathe, and feel every physical and emotional change with that person….You become that person's advocate and put your personal needs aside.

You feel their hope and joy.
You laugh with them.
You hurt with them.
You cry with them.
You feel their fear, as you transpose it in to your own fear.
You feel their hopelessness.
You feel their painful solitude, as they helplessly wait for the results of a scan, test, or other procedures.
You rejoice and feel the merriment when outcomes are positive.

I have observed myself making statements such as

"The last time we had a scan was last week." 
"We need to rest now."
"We need to take our pain medication." 
¨We'll be back in a minute."

Each day, long after the loved one's physical and emotional needs have been met, the caregiver goes on: by working on household chores, by caring for other family members, by keeping up with the financial side, and by making the next doctor's appointments, and more.

Through it all, the caregiver …..continues to be the backbone for the patient, for the family and for the thyroid cancer community.

Caregivers smile, they laugh, they bring hope to the table, they comfort each other, and they find humor in situations where little humor is left, just to bring a smile to a person's face.

So how can we take care of ourselves as caregiver?


When you walk to the edge of all the light you have, and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown…..

You must believe that one of two things will happen: There will be something solid for you stand on, or, you will learn to fly.

(By an unknown author)

Suggestions for Balance in Your Life

A person once asked me if I had balance in my life. I said, "You'll always be out of balance, but that's okay: the important thing is you keep dodging the meteors."

We have all heard the statement, "Stop and smell the Roses." But when we are in crisis, we may forget nearly everything we know.

Some people are familiar with the Serenity Prayer: "Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference."

As caregivers in this situation, it is very hard to accept the things we cannot change.

But nobody can take our HOPE away!

Hope Is Huge!

So while you are dodging the meteors……..and being strong for everyone around you, you need to take time to recharge your battery, so you can be strong for yourself, as well as for your loved one.

Examples of things that can help reduce the stress and help clear your mind, so you can function more effectively.

Periods of Rest Relaxation Stress Busters
Massage Therapy
Reading a book
Bath or shower
Soaking your feet
Sittingin a quiet area
Massage Therapy
Television or radio
Energy bodywork
Pet therapy

Massage Therapy
Counting to ten
Group therapy sessions
Support groups