Stress-Busting Tips for Caregivers

Few things prove more stressful than caring for a loved one with cancer. While doctors handle the cancer treatment, caregivers often manage their patients’ everyday needs — transportation, food, recreation, medications and visits with friends. At the same time, caregivers must deal with feelings of helplessness and frustration as they watch their loved ones fight battles in which they cannot help. Many feel guilty if they focus any attention on themselves.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, studies have consistently reported higher levels of depressive symptoms and mental health problems among caregivers than among their non-caregiving peers.

Stress-Busting Tips For Caregivers

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Few things prove more stressful than caring for a loved one with cancer. While doctors handle the cancer treatment, caregivers often manage their patients’ everyday needs — transportation, food, recreation, medications and visits with friends. At the same time, caregivers must deal with feelings of helplessness and frustration as they watch their loved ones fight battles in which they cannot help. Many feel guilty if they focus any attention on themselves.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, studies have consistently reported higher levels of depressive symptoms and mental health problems among caregivers than among their noncaregiving peers.

But caregivers can learn to manage their stress.”Talking with a trusted friend or counselor can help caregivers reduce stress, feel less helpless and understand how to respond to their loved ones,” says Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) Mind-Body Medicine national director Dr. Katherine Puckett.

Many of the same methods that help caregivers can apply to anyone facing a stressful situation. Puckett offers the following tips:

* Find a treatment center that will help. Puckett and her mind-body medicine team work closely with both patients and caregivers to listen and provide support. CTCA also helps ease stress by coordinating appointments, providing transportation and scheduling travel arrangements and hotel accommodations.

* Ask for and accept help. If another family member is willing to help out, let them ease your burden. Depending on the source of your stress, you should also seek out additional community resources. For example, cancer caregivers can find support groups for both themselves and patients.

* Know your limits. Determine what you can and can’t handle, based on your responsibilities to your family and professional life. If adding another obligation is too much, either say, “No” or find someone with whom to split duties.

* Take care of yourself. Sufficient sleep will help you manage challenges more easily. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Start exercising — regular activity can help reduce irritability, fatigue and overall stress levels.

* Make time for yourself. Relaxing or doing something that you enjoy — even for a few minutes — can go a long way towards lifting your mood. Puckett recommends that caregivers set aside at least five minutes a day to meditate or simply be still and relax.

For more information, visit www.cancercenter.com.

Early Detection, Better Treatments Lead Advanced Breast Cancer Fight

<b>Early Detection, Better Treatments Lead Advanced Breast Cancer Fight</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – In 2009, doctors will diagnose an estimated 192,370 cases of breast cancer. But the chances of survival have never been better, especially for women with advanced cancer.

What makes breast cancer “advanced”? Simply put, advanced breast cancer has spread beyond the breasts and their lymph nodes. In metastatic breast cancer, the most advanced form, cancer cells spread to other parts of the body, like the organs, bones, lungs or liver, where they continue to reproduce.

Though difficult to treat in the past, medical advances are helping doctors treat advanced breast cancer. For example, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) provides each patient with a personalized cancer treatment plan, which may include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, surgery and radiation integrated with complementary medicine like mind-body medicine, naturopathy and nutrition.

In response to studies indicating that low levels of vitamin D have been associated with higher tumor grade and shorter disease-free survival, CTCA employs nutritionists to actively monitor and document vitamin D in all breast cancer patients. While exposure to sunlight and foods, like fortified milk products, can provide some vitamin D, few people meet their daily requirements. For this reason, CTCA recommends supplements.

Of course, treating patients isn’t just about fighting cancer, but also about maintaining quality of life. Women who need surgery can now opt for oncoplastic surgery, which removes the tumor and reconstructs the breast in one procedure. Fewer surgeries mean less stress on patients.

“Personalized cancer medicine is becoming very much a modern concept,” says Dennis Citrin, MD, a medical oncologist at CTCA. “Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease. It’s not a single disease where one treatment fits all,” he adds.

Additionally, genetic technology can help protect cancer patients’ families. Two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, cause most hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. If a cancer patient finds out that she has a gene that causes cancer, she can tell her family members to get tested. Although patients with advanced cancer have better chances today than ever before, survival rates are still highest for those who detect breast cancer in its early stages.

For more information, visit www.cancercenter.com.