In CR’s Winter 2010 issue, we wrote about caregivers who advocate on a loved one’s behalf. We then asked our readers to tell us about the caregivers who advocated for them and to offer advice to other caregivers who want to step up as patient advocates.
Below are a few excerpts from some of the responses we received.
I cannot say enough about the importance of having an advocate after your cancer diagnosis! When the time came for me to have my right breast removed, I was told to sign papers that I may be responsible for $10,000. That is when I panicked. I needed someone to help me out. My support leader said I needed an advocate. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
If you do not know the system, the insurances, the procedures, the doctors, etc., you need an advocate who does.
I had three surgeries in less than six weeks; I was overwhelmed. I have three wonderful sisters, all married with families of their own. Emotionally they were all there for me … and one sister who lived in another country came and helped me. She was like a godsend; she stayed for almost three months. … Perhaps I would have managed without my sister being there for me, but emotionally I felt so blessed and grateful.
New York City
After my diagnosis, my wife took charge of getting medical and other bills paid. She transported me to my appointments and was my main moral supporter even though it was a hard time for her as well. She made many phone calls to our insurance company and to the medical personnel involved in my treatment. I could not have made it without her.
My advice to caregivers is to keep in mind that you are performing a very important role in the treatment of your cancer patient. Many times your role may be even more important than the medical people involved in the treatment of your loved one. Keep in mind that you are greatly appreciated.
San Antonio, Fla.
After I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2006, my husband became my other brain. He came with me to all my appointments and tests before my surgery just to make sure we both heard the same thing.
My husband and I spent time on websites learning what we could expect from my diagnosis and then we talked about it. Talking and releasing pent-up emotions is so helpful. … My husband and I cried and hugged many times during the time leading up to my surgery. I felt that it brought us closer together.
Port St. Lucie, Fla.
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