Long-Distance Caregiving: The Perspective of a Cancer Caregiver

By Kyle Walsh

I was only 6 weeks old when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. For years, I never understood what that meant. I never knew any different. A weekly trip to chemotherapy was just a typical thing. Oncology appointments weren’t anything to fear. My mom had fought her battle alone. As a single parent, she ignored many drug side effects without a blink of the eye.

One day, she went in for her typical semi-annual tests. It didn’t seem like anything was different. I remember she would always be worried around those times of the year, but for me, it wasn’t anything. My mom was a superhero. Nothing would be different. She’d be okay. Eventually, I was wrong.

That day, we found out her cancer had spread to her lymph system.

A new chemotherapy treatment, one taken orally every single day, saved her life. Unfortunately, now my mom was taking oral chemotherapy every day and going get infusions once a week. Even though she would never admit it, she was exhausted. I quickly became the caregiver who made dinner and laundry.

I’m thankful I was so young when this happened. Still at the age where stress didn’t affect me much and resilience coursed throughout my body, I was able to help my mom without hesitation. As I grew older, it became much different.

My mom eventually got back on her feet and continued to fight cancer. Today, she continues her daily and weekly chemotherapy treatments. As a 22-year cancer survivor, she is amazing.

Now that I'm an adult and moved away, I’m not there to help with laundry and cook dinner. However, I’m still able to make a difference in her life as a long-distance caregiver.

Show You Care From Afar

Even though I live 1,000 miles away, I’m still able to be the support system my mom needs.

For us, communication is key.

Technology has made it a lot easier for me to stay in the loop with any treatment changes and upcoming appointments. Thanks to social media, FaceTime, Skype, and text messaging, I’m always checking in to see if there is anything she needs.

Whether I’m skyping her during a chemotherapy session or texting her throughout her oncology appointment, it’s important to offer “face” time even when you’re far away.

Another great way to show support is to look into new options and offer hope.

While it is really important to not offer unsolicited advice — my mom absolutely hates being told what to do — it’s helpful to research solutions to new difficulties. For example, cancer treatment can be very costly; to overcome this, there are grants and benefits available for certain diseases. Try to research these options in order to minimize your loved one’s financial stress and anxiety.

There's a popular quote that reads: “Distance means so little when someone means so much.”

As a long-distance cancer caregiver, this applies so well. My mom is one of the greatest things in my life, and while I’m not able to be next to her all the time, I can still make her life better by simply being an active part of it.

Long-Distance Caregiving for Patients of Any Disease

While my mom is battling breast cancer, people around the world are battling a variety of diseases and cancers. In many situations, the people they love may not live around the corner. That’s okay.

As the Social Media Specialist for The Mesothelioma Center, I hear stories of patients and caregivers finding new and unique ways to connect with the people they love.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive, asbestos-related cancer that is often paired with a less-than-optimal cancer prognosis. As a result, family members and friends must take any opportunity to spend time and connect with their loved one.

My advice for you: Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call your loved one. Whether it is someone you know battling mesothelioma or, like me, your mom battling breast cancer, every moment matters.

At Caring Senior Service, our expert staff is comprised of extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and trusted professionals who take pride in helping your loved one manage their daily activities. Contact a Caring team near you today to learn more!

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Kyle Walsh is a guest writer for Caring Senior Service.

Tags: Caregivers