Taking care of someone who is fighting cancer, while rewarding, can be physically and mentally draining. It may have become more difficult and stressful in the context of COVID-19.
To protect your loved one, you have to protect yourself first. It is more important now than ever to follow these recommendations:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for 20 seconds.
- Avoid all unnecessary contact with the outside.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth without washing your hands first.
- Clean and disinfect your home regularly (counters, doorknobs, etc.), especially objects touched by multiple people (computers, for example).
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.
- Use single-use tissues and throw them in the trash.
It is also important to take care of yourself by staying connected to your friends and loved ones. Don’t isolate yourself; continue to communicate virtually with the people in your life.
It may be difficult to avoid contact with the outside, but if your loved one is receiving chemotherapy, it is important to stay inside whenever possible. If you have children, it is recommended that you do not send them to school, daycare, or day camp.
Ideally, avoid going shopping yourself. You could ask someone you know to deliver your groceries or order them directly from the store.
Health Canada has recommended wearing a mask (or face covering, if homemade) whenever you go outside or to a public place, especially if you won't be able to maintain two metres of distance between yourself and others.
Call a doctor and keep away from your loved one if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Fever or temperature of 38.3°C (102°F) or higher
- Trouble breathing (shortness of breath)
- Dry cough
- Unusual fatigue
Certain information can make you feel more anxious, so limit how much COVID-19 content you watch, read or listen to. Only consume information from reliable sources. This will help you take practical measures to prepare and protect yourself and your loved ones.
The Canadian Psychological Association has published some highly practical advice to help you manage the psychological impact of this crisis.
Remember to take care of yourself by doing healthy activities that make you feel good and help you relax. Exercise regularly, keep a consistent sleep schedule, eat nutritious foods and take time for yourself.
If you are a caregiver and need support, you can contact the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada at 1-833-222-4884 or firstname.lastname@example.org.