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I am a caregiver
A natural caregiver can be a partner, child, friend, or other family member who supports someone with a chronic illness. A caregiver supports the patient on both an emotional and practical level. A natural caregiver is a member of the healthcare team. This role usually involves several new responsibilities and can be very rewarding, but at the same time, very demanding. It is normal to feel a mixture of emotions such as joy, fear, anxiety, frustration, and sadness. It is also possible that you will need to change your lifestyle to suit your new role.
What a caregiver can do
Each patient experiences the disease differently. The course of the disease may also differ from patient to patient. This is why the caregiver will need to adapt to the needs of the patient.
As a natural caregiver, you can:
- Talk to loved ones
- Take care of the housekeeping
- Prepare meals
- Arrange medical appointments
- Provide transportation
- Talk to the medical team
- Keep family and relatives informed
- Financial planning
- Provide emotional support
What you may feel and what may help you
It is quite normal to experience both positive and negative emotions. For negative emotions, it is common to feel anxious, frustrated, sad, guilty, and helpless. It is also normal to cry. Crying helps relieve tension, so do not stop yourself. Each person has their own emotional reaction to the new challenges that you’re facing. You need to develop your own coping mechanisms.
- Practice relaxing, with deep breathing techniques or meditation.
- Stay active
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle – good nutrition, adequate rest time
- Share your emotions
- Take time for yourself and do activities you enjoy
- Keep a journal to write what you feel
- Seek help from others
- Appreciate all the precious moments that life brings you
What you can do to help your loved one
Form a support network
As soon as the diagnosis of prostate cancer is announced, it is important to form a support network for the patient. This network should include people who can provide emotional and practical help when needed.
- Recruit from amongst your close friends and close relatives, i.e. people that you trust.
- To not overwhelm the patient with your fears and worries, you must develop your own support network.
- Have someone you can confide in and count on at all times. Do not isolate yourself.
Find out more about prostate cancer
Find out as much as you can about prostate cancer. This will allow you to feel more in control of the situation, to talk more easily with healthcare professionals, and to help your loved one make more informed decisions about his cancer. It is important that your research comes from reliable and valid sources.
The importance of communication
Maintaining good communication is essential. Pay attention to your tone of voice it can tell people a lot about your mood. Do not forget that communication is largely related to body language.
- Look at the person you’re talking to, nod and tell them you’re listening and ask questions when things are not clear.
- Talk about how you feel. This will allow you to get some of the emotional support you both need. This can also help to solve some problems related to the new diagnosis. Sometimes there is no right or wrong answer; just listening can help a lot.
Be understanding and patient
People who have never experienced a major crisis like cancer, find it difficult to understand what the patient is experiencing at first. As for family members and friends, they must find a way to understand and cope with the emotional reactions brought on by such news. Now is the time to be patient.
- Be tolerant and accepting of mood changes, ups and downs, and fear and anger; in short, all the reactions that the patient may have. With time, his reactions will become less strong and he will be more willing to express what he feels.
- Until he adapts—and this takes time—avoid confrontations and do not push him to make drastic decisions about his treatment choices or about changing his role within the family.
Provide comfort and emotional support
As a natural caregiver, you will be one of his primary sources of comfort and emotional support. You can have a positive impact if you:
- Respect his autonomy and need to be alone at times, tell him you can help him if he needs it.
- Involve him as much as possible in his care or other daily tasks.
- Help him make a list of activities they prefer and accompany them to do them.
- Discuss and listen without judging.
Participate in the treatment
You can offer to accompany your loved one to his doctor’s appointments for tests or for treatment. If he seems open to the idea of your being there, you can:
- Help by taking notes and asking questions during appointments.
- Prepare a file with all medical information, including a list of medications.
You can also get more information from health care professionals about the treatment options and possible side effects for each treatment. It is important to know that, in general, men are less likely to talk about their health problems and their fears.
Take care of yourself
Being a natural caregiver can be very demanding both physically and emotionally. If you take care of yourself, you will be able to take care of your loved one more effectively.
- Allow time for you. It is essential to for a healthy lifestyle.
- If you feel overwhelmed emotionally, try talking to your friends, another family member or a health care professional.
- You can also try meditation and yoga to help you relax. It is important to recognize your own limitations and to understand that you cannot do everything. Other family members, friends, or community resources can also help.
- It can also be helpful to share our experience with people who are experiencing the same thing. Ask the healthcare team if a support group for caregivers is available in your area.
Work and Money
Your role as a caregiver may be detrimental to your job given the possible absences related to your role as a caregiver. You can meet with your boss and discuss the situation with him. Reducing the number of hours worked, changing your tasks, or working from home can be solutions depending on your situation.
By being a caregiver, you may be eligible for various forms of assistance offered by the Government of Canada. Ask about your situation. Check out our resource page here. And do not forget that we are always here for you.
I am an employer
When an employee suffers from cancer, their boss plays a key role. Both the employer and employee can benefit from identifying the needs of the sick employee and effectively managing work‑related challenges. As an employer, you have an important role to play.
The truth is that understanding the disease combined with one of your employees announcing that they have cancer can be as destabilizing for you as it is for your employee. In fact, your employee is probably mortified by the idea of telling you, not to mention, he is probably still reeling from the news he was just hit with. Imagine his state of mind. Imagine the whole range of emotions, worries, and concerns running through their head and in the heads of their partner, family… and, not to mention you. It’s a tough blow.
To help you, here’s what you need to know when one of your employees makes the announcement. Know that you are not alone. We are here for you at 1 855 899-2873.
Let your employee choose the meeting time. If you feel like he lacks the courage to come talk to you, take the initiative.
- Pay attention and let the employee know that you will not necessarily have the answer or solution to everything. Allow time for reflection if necessary.
- Ask questions and watch your employee’s reaction. If he is uncomfortable answering, do not insist.
- Let them know you are at their disposal.
- If your employee is taking sick leave, see whether or not he wishes to be informed about work.
- Never mention an employee’s state of heath without permission.
If the employee with cancer wishes to speak openly about his situation with the team, discuss it with the team to figure out the best time.
Be flexible with your employee. Let him change his work hours if necessary. He may have medical appointments or may need to reduce his work hours.
- If the employee wishes to continue working during his treatment, try to adjust his workload as needed.
- Many patients would like to benefit from time off for medical reasons (therapeutic part‑time work). See if you can offer your employee this opportunity when he returns.
Hearing that someone has cancer has an emotional impact, not only on the person affected, but also on their co‑workers and employer. In this situation it is necessary to be patient and understanding. Beware of negative behaviours from the team.
- Ensure that relationships are as normal and balanced as possible and encourage good communication between the sick employee and his colleagues.
- Show interest in your employee’s concerns.
Understanding the importance of work
For various reasons, it is important for most people with cancer to be able to continue working.
- Work may represent a type of “normal” routine for them
- Work may give them a sense of “control”
- For financial reasons, the employee cannot afford to lose his job.
An employee with cancer may also affect other employees. The latter may be upset and not know how to react. Employees may also feel pressure because the absences of a sick colleague may lead to an increase in their workload.
- Discuss the situation with your team and ask your employees if they are able to handle the extra work in the absence of their sick co‑worker.
- In this special situation, do you have the ability to reduce the team’s workload? To ask the question is to answer it.
Care trajectory and work reintegration
Have you never had to deal with an employee with cancer? We have provided you with a guide of your responsibilities as an employer—from understanding the concerns of your employees to the roles of your executives, managers, or human resources department. And remember, you are not alone. We are here for you at 1 855 899-2873.
Cancer is different for everyone
- Some needs, such as empathy, are very common in patients.
- The need for communication with the company can vary greatly from one person to the next.
- Do not forget that each person, supervisor or co‑worker, reacts differently to illness.
- Often, behind a patient there is a caregiver. Do not forget this!
Concerns of your employees and their loved ones
- Financial situation (difficulties)
- Physical and psychological consequences
- Return to and retention in the labour market
- Ongoing functional limitations
- Permanent disability for an undetermined period
We have identified three stages to guide you
Stage 1 – Diagnosis, the announcement of cancer, and your role
“When I told people about my cancer, I was afraid of how they would react and I felt guilty for dropping the workload on my colleagues. I need to be reassured, supported, and heard.”
Supervisor and co‑workers
- Take the time to think about the situation
- Seek advice from HR if necessary
- Empathy = support and listening
- Respecting his wishes and privacy: what can be said, to whom, and how
Supervisor and HR
- Reassure the employee of their place in the company
- Adopt a common strategy to manage the situation with HR to avoid confusion
- Check out PROCURE and call 1 855 899-2873
- Book a confidential meeting with one of our in‑house nurses specializing in uro‑oncology
Stage 2 – Cancer treatments and your role
“While I am away I still need to be reassured. I appreciate getting news and the fact that I am still considered to be an employee. Being able to continue working helps me maintain a professional identity and social ties.”
HR, supervisor, and co‑workers
- Getting news in a coordinated manner
- Maintaining the link between employee and company
- Relieving some of his workload by sharing some of the work with his colleagues or with his replacement
- Maintaining clear communication about the situation (work is not an obligation)
If the employee chooses to work, strike a balance between an empathetic and normal attitude. Having some flexibility in dealing with unforeseen issues and meeting for periodic assessments could help.
Stage 3 – Professional reintegration
“When I get back, I need to see that my company has prepared for my gradual return. I would appreciate a welcome‑back meeting on my first day. It is also important to me that people understand that some symptoms like fatigue and anxiety can persist long after treatment is complete.”
HR and supervisor
- Allow for a gradual return to work.
- Organize a welcome‑back meeting—show that you are interested in their well‑being.
- Keep in mind that the employee could be prone to fatigue and possible anxiety for a while.
- Offer a flexible work schedule if possible.
- Talk to the person if you notice that he is overcome with fear, both physically and mentally, of being discriminated against and/or of losing his job.
- Schedule meetings for periodic assessments.
- Be as understanding as possible of changes in attitude towards work and show flexibility
- Emphasize the balance between empathetic and normal attitudes.
Even if the treatment is over, there may be other issues that need to be addressed such as adapting to long‑term side effects, marital life, and long‑term plans. The family doctor, health professionals, you, and your employer, play a key role in the care of patients and their reintegration into the workplace.
Our corporate program can bring you the same support as our health professionals.
Last medical and editorial review: September 2023
Written by PROCURE. © All rights reserved