Sunday, November 20, 2022

Lending Support to Cancer Caregivers During National Family Caregivers Month and Beyond


Bringing Attention to the Challenges of Caring for Those with Blood Cancer & Finding Solutions to Ease the Emotional Toll on Caregivers & Patients

Celebrated every November, National Family Caregivers Month is a time to recognize and honor caregivers across the US. In a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving, about 50% of 111 cancer caregivers reported feeling “highly stressed” due to the intense and demanding nature of caregiving, and there is growing evidence this could potentially affect the mental health of the patients as well.

In particular, the mental health of patients with blood cancer, including those living with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and their caregivers, can be impacted due to the physical, emotional and social effects of the disease.

CLL is the most common leukemia in adults. It's a type of cancer that starts in cells that become certain white blood cells (called lymphocytes) in the bone marrow. The cancer (leukemia) cells start in the bone marrow but then go into the blood.

As with other illnesses, COVID-19 has exacerbated the mental health impact of blood cancer on patients, as well as placing an added strain on caregivers. In a recent survey of 100 patients with blood cancer, 96% of patients reported their blood cancer has impacted their mental health since the start of the pandemic in 2020, and 72% of patients said they rely most on their family members to provide them with emotional support for their blood cancer.

Recently, New Age Mama was able to interview Dr. Ken Tiller, a hematologist and oncologist at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. The doctor discusses the  impact of blood cancer, including CLL, on the mental and emotional health of both patients and caregivers, and share resources to help meet this important need.

This interview was very eye opening, and Dr. Tiller's tips can be especially helpful during the holiday season when so many people are juggling responsibilities and still give their loved ones a holiday to remember.