Patients & Families
Patients and Families
Your Role as a Caregiver

What to Expect as a Caregiver
A caregiver can be described as someone who provides both physical and emotional care to someone with cance  when they are in the hospital, and/or when they are at home. Being a caregiver comes with many responsibilities, but can strengthen your relationship with the patient, and add meaning to your life.

As a caregiver, you may be accompanying your loved one to many of their medical appointments and hospital visits. Your family member or friend may be experiencing many emotions throughout this journey. It is important that you are able to help them organize and remember the information given to them by the doctors. It is also important to provide them with comfort and emotional support.

The first doctor’s appointment can be very overwhelming to the cancer patient and you, make sure you bring a notebook and pen so you are able to record important information for your loved one.

View a list of questions that your loved one might want to ask.

Make sure to bring a list of any medication that your loved one is currently taking. 

    • Depending on the type of cancer that your loved one is diagnosed with, you   
      may find yourself providing them with physical care. A few things that you 
      might need to learn how to help with is bathing, bathroom care, mouth care, and 
      giving medicine. 

    • It may be useful to ask your healthcare team for information on assistive devices 
      such as wheelchairs, walkers or shower chairs if needed, and referral to an 
      occupational therapist or physiotherapist for assesment and assistance.

   • Along with providing physical support, caregivers are usually the main source of 
     emotional support. It is important to involve your loved one as often as possible – 
     let them decide when they want help.
 
   • Help them enjoy the activities that they are still able to do and make them readily 
     available. Good communication is key – encourage your loved one to share their 
     feelings with you. It is important to be there when your loved one needs company, 
     but to allow them space when they prefer to be alone. 

    • It is important to remember that every person’s cancer experience is unique. It 
      should not be assumed that the individual you are caring for will feel or act in a 
      certain manner.

Depending on the age of the patient and their situation, you may feel like it is your responsibility to inform the patient who is diagnosed that they have cancer. This may be difficult for you to do. It is important to tell your healthcare team if you are finding difficulty in informing your loved one of their diagnosis. They will help you with this. Being honest about a diagnosis will allow patients and family members to approach cancer more directly. This will make it easier to make decisions, and offer support.