By Sean T. Powell, MSW, LCSW, CCM, OSW-C
Director of Social Work and Patient and Family Services
Caregivers are the unsung heroes in the cancer journey. They are thrust into their role with no formal training and often little time to prepare. Their love and concern for the patient drive them to take on new and foreign responsibilities and tap into strength and determination they didn’t know they had. They wear multiple hats: appointment coordinator, decision-maker, informal counselor, spokesperson and taxi driver. They focus much of their attention on their loved one, often neglecting their own needs during the caregiving journey.
As a former caregiver myself, I can truly empathize with the enormity of the task. My sister and I cared for our father after he was diagnosed with colon cancer. At that point, I had been an oncology social worker for over 15 years, so I had a bit of a leg up on most other caregivers. But it didn’t remove the stress of caring for another person during a difficult time and absorbing additional responsibility. It provided me with insight into the experience of the caregivers I worked with daily and an increased appreciation of their role. It also helped me to be better prepared to address their needs to support them during their journey.
This edition of PARTNERS celebrates our cancer caregivers and the numerous contributions they make to the success of their loved ones’ treatment as well as their quality of life. We have some articles from both caregivers and professionals about the shock of a new diagnosis, ways to find tangible help, and recommendations on coping and taking care of yourself. The job you are doing is invaluable and Moffitt appreciates the care, concern and selflessness you demonstrate every day. It’s not just the patient’s courage that inspires us, it is yours too.