Pancreatic cancer patient supported by her caregiver speak with their doctor at the hospital

Being a caregiver for a loved one battling pancreatic cancer can be overwhelming, but it is also a crucial role in the fight against the world’s toughest cancer.

In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) asked Survivor & Caregiver Network volunteers for their advice on how to manage supporting a loved one through their pancreatic cancer journey. Here are their tips:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  • “Many people came to me with the question, ‘What can I do to help?’ I quickly realized I needed to figure out what we needed and who the best person was to provide it. For example, giving clinical trial information to a medical friend to interpret. Giving a new recipe to a friend who was a great cook. These were things that not only helped us, but also put our friends and family in their strength and comfort zones.” – Zach W.
  • “I lived with my youngest brother when he was ill. I had a running list of things I needed done. My visiting brothers would come and check items off the list. For example: change lightbulbs, fix Wi-Fi, get my brother’s car an oil change and buy a new tire. They were so terrific.” – Lisa B.
  • “For me, the best thing that happened was finding someone to speak with who was on the same roller coaster ride, had some experience with the process and was able to listen to me. I also found a Facebook group that was helpful.” – Sue A.

2. Self-care is just as important as caregiving.

  • “Be sure to direct your frustration, anger and sadness into an appropriate outlet. That outlet looks different for everyone. It could be spending time with a friend, having a yoga practice or journaling. Find your outlet, so those intense feelings do not live inside you or come out in unhealthy ways, especially toward your loved ones during difficult days.” – Brooke S.
  • “I found meditation apps to be helpful at night. My mind could calm down for a few minutes.” – Sue A.

3. Never give up hope.

  • “Leave no stone unturned. The hard truth is that this cancer is unforgiving, and you should check out every bona fide treatment possibility and clinical trial that might help.” – Sarah S.
  • “I consider the fight against pancreatic cancer as if I’m fighting a war. Try to put emotions aside and focus each day on what ground must be gained in the war at that moment. What appointments must be made? What doctors must be seen? What items must be procured to get through each day? If you focus on the prognosis, you can become paralyzed with fear and panic. What can we do today to move forward? Have a good cry, then pick yourself up, strap on your combat boots, and deal with this like a soldier. Focus on the objective for today, even if it’s just to make the patient feel more comfortable.” – Lynn T.
  • “Have faith and have patience. When your loved one is down and negative, it is so important to be positive. You will find incredible strength you never knew you had.” – Amy C.
Contact a Patient Central Associate
Contact Patient Central for free information about pancreatic cancer as well as support resources for patients and caregivers, including the Survivor & Caregiver Network.