Improving Quality of Life

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Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 2E5

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Advice for Caregivers

Caregivers often forget about themselves when attending to patients.

“You can’t help anyone else, no matter how much you love them, if your body (mind or spirit) gives out first. As hard as it is, when all you want to do is give, caregivers must also take care of themselves. It can supply you with the openness and energy to care for your loved one.” - Anne Pitman, OICC
Care Coordinator

Put Your Oxygen Mask On First

Excerpts from Anne Pitman’s blog

  • Access help.  Most of us want to do it all ourselves, but there are times when some good practical support makes all the difference.  Ask friends (who aren’t sure how to help) for specific things: a kale salad, a nightly call to check in with you, a date to talk about something other than cancer.  Ask doctors and natural health practitioners what support is available in the community.

    The OICC welcomes caregivers in our programs, be it yoga, exercise or nutrition classes.  Consider seeing one of our health care practitioners, such as a naturopathic doctor, just for you.

  • Work directly with fear and anxiety.  While these feelings are natural when facing cancer, they can be overwhelming. There are both short term strategies and long term practices that can help balance your nervous system and help you feel more grounded and stable.

  • Experience something other than cancer.  After the initial shock, and decisions have been made and treatment begun, there is often a steadier time.  Time when you could actually take a break from thinking exclusively about cancer and remedies.  Take a walk somewhere beautiful, read a magazine, watch a funny movie even if you don’t laugh out loud.

  • Do something physical.  We know how important exercise is, even during treatment, for your loved one with cancer, but it is equally important for the caregiver.  Movement helps on all levels, gives you a mental break and a feeling of being in your own body, in your own life, in the present.

  • Eat well.  Many caregivers forget about nutrition for themselves.  If making food feels like too much, perhaps those helpful friends and relatives could bring something along.  People don’t know how to help and don’t know how to ask you what you need, but are often relieved to receive direction. 

“The OICC is a special place, staffed by special people.  They recognize the important role the caregiver plays in the cancer patient’s treatment and do their utmost to ensure the caregiver is cared for.” - Judy Charles



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