Cancer is a condition where cells multiply abnormally thereby causing damage to body organs and function. Also called malignancy, cancer is caused by many factors such as chemicals, environmental pollutants, exposure to radiation, excessive alcohol intake, diet and obesity. Age and genetics also play a role in cancer development. Sometimes, the exact cause of a malignancy is not clear.
The most common cancer are prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer in men, and breast cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer among women. Other types are stomach cancer, liver cancer, skin cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, leukaemia, and lymphoma.
People who suffer from cancer may complain of fatigue, loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing or eating, bleeding or discharge, or a nagging cough. Some may report difficulty in voiding or defecating and sores that do not heal. They may discover a lump or tumor or notice changes in the appearance of moles. More specific symptoms depend on the type of cancer. Pain is a common complaint of cancer patients especially when their condition is in an advanced stage.
Cancer may be treated through surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. If caught early, surgery alone for some types of cancer may be enough. However, for cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, chemotherapy and radiation are the treatment options. Alternative and complementary therapies may also be considered. Palliative and hospice care are given to those with advanced cancer.
It is estimated that 11 million Americans and millions more worldwide are suffering from cancer. Despite huge amounts of research, a true cure has been elusive. The incidence of cancer is rising but better prevention and early intervention have also improved survival rates. Doctors recommend early screening and regular check-ups to catch cancer. To reduce the risk, experts urge a healthy diet, exercise, normal weight, reduction in alcohol and tobacco use, and limited exposure to the sun.
For the unfortunate ones who are diagnosed with cancer, the news is devastating and feelings of anxiety and thoughts about death can be overwhelming. The “Big C” as it is sometimes called, is a terrible disease which not only affects patients but their families to a great extent. A cancer diagnosis triggers a crisis in the family that is facing a daunting task in facing added responsibilities. However, with the right approach we can support cancer patients and their families in coping with cancer conditions.
Home care for cancer patients
Family members are quick to assume the responsibilities of being a caregiver. Yet, they are also often caught unprepared for the heavy burden and wilt under pressure later on. The main problem they cite is the need to spread themselves too thin between the demands of caregiving and their work and own personal lives.
However, this problem need not be theirs alone to bear. We have many resources in place to help these families take care of their loved ones with cancer. They can coordinate with doctors, nurses and the local health department to look for reputable home care agencies in their area. These agencies can help them provide trusted, reliable, and compassionate personal care attendants, companions and caregivers that can assist them.
How PCAs and caregivers can help
Cancer patients have unique and challenging needs that need attention. These professionals can help people with cancer perform their day-to-day routine as well as deal with uncomfortable effects of cancer treatment. Some of the many ways include:
Physical assistance: Many cancer patients get weak and tired even with slight physical exertion. PCAs can assist in changing positions and moving around the house. They are trained to help patients use assistive devices such as canes or walkers to ensure safe movement.
Personal hygiene: Because they are weak, many cancer patients are unable to bathe, dress and groom themselves. Carers can assist them in these routine personal activities, including going to the toilet and changing soiled linen and clothing. Personal hygiene is important to avoid infection because chemotherapy will weaken the body’s immune system.
Meal preparation: PCAs and home companions can be in charge of cooking and meal preparation. He or she makes sure that meals are safe to eat and nutritious. Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation may get nauseous and vomit and may lose their appetite. Caregivers assist them during feeding and help them eat more palatable foods.
Care coordination: Cancer patients who are discharged from facilities need follow-up care. Home health nurses can coordinate with home companions of the patient to ensure continuity of care. For example, caregivers may be trained in wound care or ostomy care. They also make sure that patients go to appointments with nurses and oncologists.
Medications: Caregivers can also assist cancer patients take their medications under the direction of a doctor or nurse. Cancer patients may be too weak, dizzy or forgetful of their medications. PCAs will help them take the right pills on time.
Other tasks: Extra services include running simple errands and doing light household tasks. Some cancer patients just need someone to talk to and feel safe with at home when family members are away.
Chances are that you know someone close, perhaps a friend or family member, who is struggling with cancer. It is a huge undertaking and you need all the help you can get. Look for the best home health care services that provide personal care attendants (PCAs) that can assist your loved one in their daily battle against cancer. These services provide in familiar surroundings at home can make a big difference.