Chris Hansen, ACS CAN President

A Blog From the ACS CAN President

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Caregivers Fulfill Vital Role in Cancer Journey

November 20, 2018

It’s fitting that November is National Family Caregivers Month, as this is a time of year that we embrace time spent with family and friends and look forward to the new year with our loved ones. Caregivers serve as critical sources of strength throughout someone’s cancer journey and are essential advocates in our mission to end death and suffering from cancer.

Many of our American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocates are also caregivers. They support loved ones throughout their cancer journeys, providing both emotional and physical care and serving as a vital source of strength and guidance. Caregivers often act as personal advocates for their loved ones by coordinating their care, going to appointments with them and completing day-to-day tasks so the person with cancer can focus on their health and treatment.

Public policies that are proven to impact the cancer burden are also opportunities to ease the strain that caregivers may experience when caring for someone with a serious illness. If passed, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) will make a difference not only for millions of patients living with serious or life-threatening illnesses, but for their caregivers as well. Adding palliative care as an extra layer of support both during and after treatment can improve pain management and symptom control as well as improve health outcomes, increasing the overall quality of life for both the patient and their caregiver. The PCHETA legislation will improve communication of care between cancer patients and their health care providers – often a responsibility that falls to the caregiver – and educate patients, their families and their doctors on the availability of palliative care.

Caregivers are important members of someone’s cancer care team, and legislation that aims to improve quality of life for patients can also positively impact the caregiver.

The American Cancer Society offers multiple resources for cancer caregivers, including an interactive resource guide and support video series.

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