Every day in homes throughout Manitoba, people put their own lives on hold to take care of someone diagnosed with cancer. Through treatments, uncertainty, fear and anxiety, these caregivers remain focused on what is best for their loved ones.
Caregivers are often thrown into these situations with no notice, with no medical background or training, and with no idea how they are going to make everything work. And yet they continue to strive to do their best, while never letting the cancer patient worry about them.
Without the countless hours of dedication from these incredible family caregivers, the cancer journey would be very different for many Manitobans. The Canadian Cancer Society estimates informal caregivers provide up to $9 billion in unpaid health care and home care every year. That number will continue to rise as the number of family caregivers grew by 20 per cent in the last five years.
New oral treatments that allow patients to stay at home for treatment make the job of the family caregiver even more important than ever. New developments in radiation therapy that are more effective against cancer can also mean more frequent trips to treatment clinics.
The Cancer Society knows how hard it can be.We offer a transportation service that can help when caregivers are trying to balance too many responsibilities at once, and a support program that can link caregivers to others who have had a similar life-altering experience they are having.
We are working for better supports for caregivers, such as the recently announced federal caregiver tax credit, so worries over finances and job loss don’t add to the stress they are already facing in having a loved one with a serious illness.
Manitobans caring for loved ones with cancer, or any other illness or disease, are often tending to the needs of others before their own, and for their dedication, their commitment, and for the difference they make in the lives of cancer patients in Manitoba, the Canadian Cancer Society is proud to recognize these efforts on April 1, Caregiver Recognition Day.
MARK A. McDONALD
Canadian Cancer Society, Manitoba Division