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A cancer diagnosis is difficult and receiving a diagnosis during an already trying time can add challenges for patients, their family and friends. As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to impact our community, you may be thinking about how to best care for your loved one while also keeping them safe.

Although our individual caregiving journeys are unique, we all share the common experience of constantly navigating different challenges while providing care to our loved ones. As a nurse navigator at the Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center, I am here to remind you it is normal to be stressed during these times, as nothing is more important than your and your family's health.

While we have COVID-19 measures in place to help safeguard the health of our community, the Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center’s priority is to provide care and comfort for both patients and their support systems. Here are five tips to help you continue providing high-quality care to your loved one during this time of uncertainty.

  • Stay connected. We encourage caregivers to be present during appointments and treatments via video or phone. Knowing details of your loved one’s diagnosis and treatment schedules will allow all parties to feel like they are active participants in the journey. Infusion treatments can often be lengthy, but knowing you are a phone call or FaceTime away will bring your loved one comfort. Our nurses at the Cancer Center are eager to help in facilitating this if you find yourself challenged with technology.
  • Be together. Although you may not be together within the Cancer Center, you are your loved one’s support system for a reason. The moments you do have together can ease stress and fears for each other. This may include from driving to and from appointments, running errands or simply enjoying free time together. Make sure to always wear your mask.
  • Foster creativity. As treatment plans can often span weeks or months, we love to see the joy of patients who have received a surprise gift from a loved one. From books to pass time or their favorite snack, to surprise cards in their treatment bags, be creative and reach out to family and friends to help you collect gifts. Remember, many hands make light work.
  • Ask questions. A cancer diagnosis impacts the patient, family and friends. Having questions of your own is normal and Tallahassee Memorial wants to provide answers to everyone we can. Being plugged in virtually during appointments will allow you to establish a relationship with your loved one’s medical team. In addition, the Cancer Center’s dedicated nurse navigators are here to provide emotional support for patients and caregivers. Asking questions is normal, not a sign a weakness, and we always encourage you to reach out to us.
  • Take care of yourself. We also understand that being a caregiver is hard work and remind you to take care of yourself too. Maintain habits and strategies to manage your health and well-being – eat balanced meals, exercise whenever possible and establish a sleep routine that works well for you. We know stress is heightened right now and recognize that you are doing the best you can. To help others you need to help yourself too.

We can sometimes predict and prepare for challenges ahead of time, but there are still those that surprise us along the way. Know our team is here for you. For more information on the Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Center and our support services, visit TMH.ORG/Cancer.

Amy Anderson, RN, Oncology Nurse Navigator, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare
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Tallahassee Memorial

Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare is a private, not-for-profit community healthcare system committed to transforming care, advancing health, and improving lives with an ultimate vision of leading the community to be the healthiest in the nation.