It’s a big task to be a caregiver for a loved one. It can take a large toll on your health and increase stress. It also creates an instant shift in your lifestyle. There are many people who serve as caregivers to family members. Imagine being a caregiver and living with a cancer diagnosis of multiple myeloma, or cancer of the blood.
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Five years ago, Selina Breland Barlow was diagnosed with cancer; during the time she was a caregiver for her mother for three years, and is now caring for her husband who has Alzheimers. Through this process she realized that life is precious and should be lived to the fullest.
Since being diagnosed, “I learned to treat my body as a temple, and I appreciate the many wonderful things I can do for myself,” she explains. With being a caregiver and processing her diagnoses, this helped her realize that it’s “important to value every day and each opportunity it brings.” She adds, “I’ve learned to relax and understand that I can’t control what happens in life, but I can turn to my faith to help me get through challenging times.”
Barlow shares the following advice for fellow caregivers:
1. Stay organized. It can be as simple as having a three-ring binder with information about your loved ones’ medical appointments, medications, and other important details.
2. Exercise daily. It doesn’t have to be lengthy amounts of time. It will help you stay active and be more effective as a caregiver.
3. Take time for yourself. Take a break from your care-giving duties and do something that you truly enjoy. It is important to maintain your personal balance and well-being.
4. Share with others. Don’t be so secretive about your situation. Sharing with others can take a burden off you. Sometimes when we hold things in, it can enhance stress. Also, as you share, you might be surprised by the support and advice you receive.
Overall, Barlow encourages everyone, “To enjoy life and look forward to each day.”