Welcome to the After Cancer blog for cancer caregivers!
“We have met you and have been moved by your challenges, your strength, and your losses.” - Ranak Trivedi
We at Stanford’s Cancer Survivorship Program have created this space to improve communication directly with you. We have met you and have been moved by your challenges, your strength, and your losses. We have recognized that you have been an invaluable part of helping our patients manage their illness. We recognize that managing cancer is challenging, and that the stress of cancer can affect family members and friends even after treatment is completed. Of the nearly 3 million cancer caregivers in the US, more than half experience high stress but less than a third have discussed this with anyone. Caregivers also neglect their own preventive care (e.g., flu shots) and medical care. This is why we wanted to create a space that sheds light on the caregiver experience and to share strategies and resources to support you.
First, introductions. I am Dr. Ranak Trivedi (view Ranak's Stanford profile). I am a clinical health psychologist, and I am interested in the psychological needs of patients with medical conditions. I have spent more than 10 years studying the various roles played by caregivers and the barriers they experience as they try to navigate the healthcare care system. This led me to design both telephone- and web-based training programs to help patient-caregiver teams to manage the stress of illness and keep their relationship healthy. We heard caregivers say that they feel marginalized by the healthcare system. Much of our current work is intended to identify and attend to their needs.
Improving caregiver relationships and outcomes is personal for me. My father has a long-standing history of heart disease and I have seen my mother take care of him for 30+ years. In my very first week of my PhD, my father had to undergo quadruple bypass surgery. He had a complicated recovery and just when he was declared out of the woods, my mother was diagnosed with Stage IIIB breast cancer. After 8 cycles of chemotherapy, 5 weeks of radiation, and breast reconstruction, she was declared cancer free but only for 2.5 years. For the past almost 14 years, she—and we—have been coping with metastatic cancer. I have seen firsthand the effects that cancer can have on the patient, as well as on the family. I have seen my parents stand by each other through all of this, and our family take an “all hands on deck” approach with every major treatment decision. We have also experienced the struggles of feeling marginalized by the healthcare system. These personal experiences add fuel to my research and is a key reason why I wanted to start this blog.
Thank you for stopping by. Next month I’d like to focus on Managing Fear of Cancer Recurrence, a common source of stress for patients and caregivers both.
Wishing you all the very best until then,