Uniting against Cancer
Most of us will be affected by cancer in some way during our lifetimes –according to Macmillan, there are an estimated 2.5 million people in the UK living with cancer, and 1.1 million of us care for someone with a form of the condition.
On February 4th, we unite against cancer on World Cancer Day, raising awareness and urging governments and individuals to make a difference. With the recent passing of much-loved celebrities like David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Sir Terry Wogan, the indiscriminate nature of cancer is on everybody’s mind. This year, World Cancer Day’s “We can. I can.” tagline reflects how everyone – collectively and as individuals – can help diminish the “global burden” of cancer.
Helping Hands Carers making a difference
At Helping Hands, we understand that coming to terms with a severe condition like cancer is one of the most challenging, frustrating, and exhausting things an individual will ever have to do. Individuals living with cancer deserve unwavering emotional and physical support in an environment that they feel comfortable in.
Our Carers are highly trained, compassionate individuals committed to making a difference in the lives of individuals and families affected by cancer.
Pedzi, who has worked for Helping Hands since 2013, recently provided sensitive palliative care to an elderly gentleman who wished to pass through the final stage of his life in the security and familiarity of his own home. A reassuring presence, she offered practical support with personal care and medication, as well as providing companionship and acting as a reliable link between other healthcare professionals such as GPs and community nurses, other carers, and family members.Pedzi reflects that the rewards of this placement were insurmountable: “Meeting my customer’s wishes to remain at home and be free from pain was an incredible achievement. I not only enabled him to stay in control of his care until the end, but I was able to put a smile on his face every day.”
Pedzi’s manager, Linda, was impressed by her loyalty and patient approach: “Pedzi managed her customer’s need to feel independent whilst ensuring that he had the right level of care and ensuring he retained his dignity, even when his condition progressed and he required full bed care. Pedzi’s calm and kind approach overcame many of her customer’s fears. She managed his need to feel in charge of the situation with diplomacy and patience.”
Supporting your loved one
Cancer is a condition that impacts upon family life. If you’re supporting a loved one coming to terms with a diagnosis, it may be useful to understand what to expect. Helping Hands Carers are well-equipped to provide our customers with stability and support. Here, they share their experiences and give some insight into what you may find yourself dealing with.
Alison, a Helping Hands Live-in Carer who currently supports a customer with a cancer diagnosis, reflects upon providing palliative care. “It is hard work and at the moment mentally draining,” she explains. “My customer is suffering. They are angry, frustrated, and frightened of dying. I have such empathy for their parents. But if I can make things easier, then that’s all that matters. They’re all great people. We’re all supporting each other.”
Paul, another of our Live-in Carers who supported a customer with end of life care following a terminal cancer diagnosis, shares what he learnt from the experience: “Caring for someone approaching the end of their life can be emotionally draining. If you’re a carer, it’s easy to forget to look after yourself too.
“It is very important to take time to keep yourself healthy and relaxed as well as your customer or loved one. Remember, whilst it’s a daunting thing knowing your time is coming to an end, it is also a good opportunity to put things right, to do things you might never have got the chance to or tell people how you feel or how much you love them. I would also add to act with sensitivity, to be careful not to offend the person affected – or indeed their family – tact must be used and words chosen wisely.”
For Alison, the most important thing about caring for somebody with cancer is making yourself available and giving them your time.
“As a caregiver, you must make sure you get enough time to rest. You should never take any anger or frustration thrown at you personally, because it’s never meant personally. It helps to have a lot of patience – to be prepared to sit and listen to their fears, something I do in the middle of the night.”
Alison, Paul, and Pedzi are representative of our Carers’ approach to cancer care: compassionate, reliable, and responsive to change. Providing care with patience and sensitivity, they can be relied upon in the most difficult of situations.
Get involved and learn more
You can get involved with World Cancer Day by donating to a cancer support charity or simply by joining the conversation on social media using the global #WeCanICan hashtag.