As a caregiver, or even a family member or friend to a person with cancer, you may be asked to take on new responsibilities. We are here to guide you and inform you about some of the new tasks you will have to perform.
Talk with your cancer team so you know exactly what the patient is taking. This includes knowing the name of each medication, understanding why it has been prescribed, and keeping track of when it should be taken.
List all the medications, the dosage, the color and shape of the pill, and any precautions that you are told about. You will also want to be aware of the most common side effects in case of a reaction. Keep this list updated and carry it with you. You may want to note on this list what medications the patient is allergic to. This will allow you to inform the doctors and avoid any unwanted reactions. We will provide you with a wallet size medicine list to easily keep with you.
Either buy or create your own pill organizer with the day and time of each drug clearly marked and easy to understand. Make sure you are checking your medication supply once a week to ensure you have at least one week’s supply on hand. Staying updated on the medication supply can allow for you to easily fill the prescription or get a new one if needed.
Be sure to give the medication exactly how the doctor or nurse described. This includes making sure the patient takes it at the correct time. If the patient leaves home, especially during the time medication should be taken, make sure they take a supply with them. Even if the patient is feeling better, have them take their prescribed doses.
It’s a good idea for the caregiver to accompany the cancer patient on visits with the cancer team. As the caregiver, you will want to listen carefully. Taking notes is a good idea. Treating cancer can be a long process that includes many office visits. Your notes can be used to help you remember details and a way to look back on past conversations. This leads to better clarity for you and less confusion and miscommunication. You can also use your notes to write down any questions you may have. This way you can be sure to ask the doctors any questions or concerns over the phone or on your next visit. We also recommend that if the patient has two caregivers, one should be designated to attend all patient appointments. This person can also be the key contact for the doctor and will be more easily able to share information with any family or friends.
A medical power of attorney empowers you to make medical decisions when the cancer patient is unable to. This is an important decision and should be discussed with the cancer patient so that the wishes of the patient can be implemented if they are unable to communicate. If you need help or have questions, we can help. Ask your cancer team about medical power of attorney.