Ask The Cancer Experts: Dr. Sarah Hales

Here's your chance to Ask the Cancer Experts, of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, a question. Dr. Sarah Hales tells us her top three recommendations for personal caregivers. #conquercancer
The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is one of the Top 5 Cancer Research Centers in the world.
Nicola asked: What are three recommendations for people who care for a loved one with cancer?
We went to Dr. Sarah Hales, a psychiatrist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, to tell us more about effective personal care.

Dr. Hales: Thanks Nicola for your question. The first response I would have is actually a question for you, which is: do you realize how valuable informal care giving is?

First Recommendation
Dr. Hales: Caregivers are doing an enormous amount. They are not only providing practical support, driving to appointments, helping patients navigate the health care system, but they're providing a lot of emotional support often for patients. And sometimes then supporting the wider network of family and friends, and patients couldn't go through their treatment without that very important, invaluable work.

Second Recommendation
Dr. Hales: Care giving is not one-size-fits-all; not everybody wants the same kind of care. For instance, some patients really want their loved ones to sweep in and provide a lot of attention to them, do a lot for them, give them a lot of emotional support and really lean in. But other patients really want to have their independence maintained, to maintain a lot of control over their lives. And so everybody is different, and thinking about who that person is, and what kind of care they are wanting and asking for I think really makes for the best kind of care giving.

Third Recommendation
Dr. Hales: Eating well, getting enough sleep, having time for fun, those are all things that we need in order to maintain functioning. 

Options for further care?
Dr. Hales: If you're experiencing some anger, some sadness, some anxiety that is normal, and people will often find that the negative emotions come and go, and there can be ups and downs. But if those feelings are staying, if they're there for weeks on end, if it's affecting functioning, if your outlook is every negative, that can be a sign that you need more specialized support. So speaking to a family doctor, or a clinician who has special expertise in psychological care can be of benefit.

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