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Family advocate: Ideas to work with your medical team

First Aired: January 25, 2015

Darcy Theil

Darcy Theil

The National Alliance for Caregiving estimates that 4 million Americans are caring for an adult cancer patient. Most of that care occurs during initial diagnoses and treatment, as well as when the family member is dying. However, the caregiver journey also includes the post-treatment, survivorship years – we know that physical and emotional side effects can continue long after chemo or radiation end.

These family caregivers are on the front lines of the cancer journey. And, they can be particularly important to the medical team. They provide information about the patient they care for 24/7, such as medical history and patient preferences. They receive instructions from the medical team about medications, side effects and expectations. And, most importantly, they can facilitate communication between the person in treatment and the oncologists.

Even though these caregivers are extremely valuable, it can be challenging for them to feel like a member of the team – or to receive the kinds of physical, emotional and spiritual support they need.

We welcome back Darcy Thiel, a licensed mental health counselor and author. Her husband, Tim, was diagnosed with stage 4 gall bladder cancer and died less than a year after the diagnosis. She knows a good deal about the challenges a family caregiver and advocate can face, and she has written about her experiences in two books and on her blog, Help for Healing.

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