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Our Community Focus

November is National Caregivers Month

By Lori Pyegeorge, RN

In November we recognize family caregivers across the country and honor their dedication and compassion. This includes family caretakers who care for loved ones with a chronic condition, disability, disease, or old age. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP data from 2016, approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child throughout the year. They give their time and energy to food preparation, housekeeping, transportation, and medical care.

Many of these caregivers have no medical training, and surveys from Gallup-Healthways found that caregivers spend around 13 hours per month researching care services and diseases/conditions and coordinating medical appointments.

As an oncology nurse, I have had the privilege of getting to know many patients and their caregivers. Caring for a person with cancer is an extraordinarily difficult job, as treatments, side effects, and symptoms change over time. In cancer care, there is also an emotional and psychosocial journey that caretakers experience with our patients. One thing I have consistently noticed is that “self-care” is often put on the backburner for caretakers. I encourage individuals who are caregivers to find ways to refill their emotional and physical cup. Here are a few suggestions:

Exercise Regularly Staying active helps keep your mind and body in top shape and is a huge stress reliever.

Schedule Time Away Make a date with yourself to do something you enjoy.

Journaling Take a few minutes every day to write down your thoughts and feelings.

Join a Support Group Caregiver Action Network is a foundation that has a multitude of resources available. 

Many oncology nurses have worked in the field for more than 20 years and often form a special bond with patients and families. Treating the same patient daily or weekly for months or even years, nurses and patients build relationships and genuinely care about each other. It is for this reason that our practice will be hosting an event to celebrate the lives of patients who have recently passed away. It will be an opportunity for staff and family members of patients to come together to remember those we love. Our event will be called “An Evening of Memories,” where we will share memories in a celebratory and dignified manner.

Lori Pyegeorge, RN, is the nursing supervisor at Diablo Valley Oncology & Hematology Medical Group in Pleasant Hill. 925-677-5041. She has been an oncology nurse for over 25 years and considers it an honor and privilege to care for cancer patients.