We often talk about depression and its effects on survivors, but having cancer also has significant effects on our caretakers and our family members. Many of them are constantly worried about us; spend time accompanying us at our doctor’s appointments; have to continue to hold down a job; deal with the myriad of everyday problems that besiege every family and they must find a way to deal with all the emotional strains that our cancer places on the family. They often find themselves as the communicator between us and the rest of the world.
It is truly amazing that they can handle all of these issues. However, we must remember that they are under this constant pressure and will also need our support. If they become depressed, we need to encourage them to go to their own doctor. They may be excellent candidates for therapy and possibly antidepressants. Message therapy and relaxation training can help all of us, including our caretakers.
It is our responsibility to encourage them to respond to their own pressures and issues. Selfishly, we need to keep them healthy so they will be there to help us.
Joel T Nowak MA, MSW