NCCN Guidelines for Patients™: Colon Cancer
Part 9: Tools
9.5 Suggestions for taking care of caregivers
• Take the time to understand your loved one’s cancer and its treatment. Educating yourself will help
you know what to expect and how you can be supportive.
• Help provide eyes and ears and sometimes a voice for your loved one. It is extremely useful for
patients to have someone with them at doctor’s visits to listen, ask questions, take notes, process
what is said, and sometimes speak up on their behalf.
• Talk about the important issues. Do it from the very beginning. Don’t wait until a patient is too sick
or has lost too much ability to address important matters.
• Help develop a treatment plan, and, if appropriate, an advance directive. Such plans help
everyone involved understand what is important to the patient in terms of treatment goals and
• Take care of yourself. Find the time to get away—take a walk, have lunch with a friend, see a
movie, and do something that feels normal. In addition, eat well, try to sleep well, and exercise.
You’ll be a better caregiver if you are taking care of yourself.
• Let other people help you. Take advantage of those offers to make a meal, provide a ride, watch
the kids, or just give you a break. Let your friends know what they can do.
• Take advantage of the resources that are available. There are many approaches to dealing with
the complex issues you may face as a caregiver. You should know what support is there for you
and use these resources.
• Understand that caregivers are survivors just as much as patients are. Cancer is life-changing
whether you are the patient or the person caring for the patient.