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Caregiver for Cancer Patients

What is Cancer

Human cells, just like other living organisms, have the capacity to distribute themselves.

This is how a single fertilized cell of the woman can grow into an embryo, foetus, child and later on adult. The process of cell division continues throughout a person’s life: cells grow, divide and replace themselves when needed (e.g. to repair damage from a wound or burn).  Damaged or old cells usually destroy themselves, and there is a balance.

In some cases, something goes wrong inside the cell and this cell division no longer happens in a controlled way. The cells start to grow in an uncontrolled way. The human body is capable of detecting an abnormal cell and stopping it from developing, but sometimes, the abnormal cell is missed and can grow into a tumour.

A tumour can be benign, which means that the cells grow slowly and that the tumour does not invade surrounding tissues. They can be removed and usually the risk of recurring is small.

A malignant tumour (= cancer) can invade surrounding tissues and spread to other parts of the body.  Cancer cells can spread through the body via the blood or the lymph system (= part of the body’s circulatory system). This is called metastasis.

There are more than 100 types of cancer.  Cancer can originate in the skin, in the blood cells, in organ cells, in the bone, … Usually, a cancer is named after the organ in which it started (e.g. bone cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, …).

Cancer is usually categorized into different stages, to indicate how severe the cancer is.  

  • Stage 0 (also called carcinoma in situ): Means that there are malignant cells found, but it has not invaded the surrounding cells yet. It is not cancer yet, but it can become cancer.

  • Stage I to III: The tumour has grown and has invaded surrounding tissues. The larger the number is, the bigger the cancer and the more the cancer has spread to surrounding organs and lymph nodes. As the stage numbers go up, the cancer is more difficult to treat (the prognosis is usually less good).

  • Stage IV: The cancer has metastasized to another organ. When the Patient can no longer be treated, the cancer is called terminal. Usually, the Patient will be treated palliatively after this diagnosis (treating the symptoms rather than the actual cancer).

Benefits of a Specialised Caregiver for a Cancer Patient

The Specialised Caregiver will improve the quality of life of the patient at all stages of the Cancer,  by making sure that appropriate Medical and Emotional support are provided.

They are also good listeners, helping to meet patients’ psychosocial & emotional needs and treating them as intelligent adults.

Our caregivers provide diet support for the patients as well as the comfort and support for therapy side-effects.  Scientists found that regular exercise invention and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help improve physical function in elderly cancer survivors.

Source:The Hindustan Times, Exercise, Veggie-rich Diet Improves Elderly Cancer Survivors’ Health November 19, 2008

Benefits of a Specialised Caregiver for the Family

As a trained professional, our Specialised Caregivers are not only caring professionally for the patient, but they are also good listeners who are able understand the family members’ concern. They stand by your side and help you cope with this difficult situation. Hiring a Specialised Caregiver also gives you the satisfaction and peace of mind to provide the very best care to your family member who has been stricken by Cancer. 

Actions of the Specialised Caregiver for Cancer Patients

Our Caregiving plan for Cancer comprises the following elements, and it will be adjusted to the Patient’s specific condition:

SURGERY - Specialised Caregiver interventions:

A Patient who had surgery will usually spend some time in the hospital, depending on the kind of surgery and the need for other therapies.

Once the Patient is home, there will be follow-up by a doctor and/or nurse, but the caregiver can provide some valuable assistance to the Patient:

  • Assistance with Activities Of Daily Living: bathing, providing healthy & varied meals, assistance with ambulation, …;
  • The caregiver is trained to assist Patients who have urinary catheters & feeding tubes, who are incontinent, who need medication or oxygen therapy;
  • The caregiver is with the Patient all day and can easily notice abnormalities of the wound (signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, excessive drainage, pain, fever) or of the behaviour of the Patient in general;
  • The caregiver can apply interventions to promote wound healing;
  • The caregiver can also carry out some instructions, given by the doctor or nurse: gradually initiating exercise, elimination programme, …).

The specialized caregiver will communicate with the doctor regularly to discuss the treatment of the Patient.


RADIATION THERAPY - Specialised Caregiver interventions:

The caregiver will most likely be faced with caring for a Patient who receives external radiotherapy, as the Patient can go home in between different sessions.

Because radiotherapy does not only affect the cancer cells, but also the surrounding healthy cells, side effects are unavoidable. The caregiver should be aware of the side effects and try to address them, as much as possible. The most important ones are:

  • Skin irritations & burns;
  • Fatigue, nausea & vomiting;

Specific side effects depending on the area that is radiated: damage to the saliva glands (this can cause problems with eating & appetite), hair loss, urinary problems, …

Late side effects (appearing months or years after treatment) include scar tissue, damage to the bowels (causing diarrhoea), memory loss, infertility or secondary cancer.


CHEMOTHERAPY - Specific Caregiver interventions:

Caregiver interventions for Patients who receive chemotherapy will mainly focus on recognizing the side effects of chemotherapy and addressing them as much as possible. Common side effects are:

  • Changes in appetite;
  • Hair loss;
  • Anaemia and fatigue;
  • Weight loss, nausea and diarrhea;
  • Higher susceptibility to infections.

Other Interventions include:

  • Assisting the Patient with Activities of Daily Living, such as bathing, ambulating, eating, if the Patient has less energy to do these things;
  • Carrying out the instructions of the doctor;
  • Being alert to abnormalities or significant changes in the Patient’s general health or behaviour and report them to a doctor.


Beyond the Physical Care: How the Specialised Caregiver will support the patient in coping with Cancer:

The caregiver will not only address physical needs during cancer treatment, but most likely also psychosocial & emotional needs of the Patient.

Cancer is a heavy burden for the Patient, especially when the prognosis is poor or when there is no cure possible. The caregiver has to support the Patient and have patience when the Patient has feelings of guilt, anger, anxiety, depression, irritability, confusion, …

In most cases, it might be necessary to encourage Patient to go on and give them hope, help them to see further than the negative effects and be ready to talk whenever the Patienta feels like it. Even when cure is possible, the Patient might still go through a grieving phase.

For Patients for whom no cure is possible, the caregiver will have to support the Patient in the process of dying. 

For more details on how our Specialised Caregivers will support each type of Cancer,  please contact us

  • Bladder cancer,
  • Bowel cancer,
  • Breast cancer,
  • Cervical cancer,
  • Gastric (stomach) cancer,
  • Liver cancer,
  • Lung cancer,
  • Esophageal cancer,
  • Prostate cancer,
  • Uterine cancer. 
  • etc,
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