Mayo Clinic Q&A

From complex or serious conditions like cancer and heart disease to the latest news on research and wellness, host Dr. Halena Gazelka asks the questions and gets easy-to-understand answers from Mayo Clinic experts

Episodes Cancer caregivers need care themselves

a young woman, perhaps Latina or Asian, sitting by a window comforting an older woman wearing a headwrap, perhaps a relative with cancer

Cancer caregivers need care themselves
Aug. 16, 2021

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, partners, family members and friends often step into the role of being a cancer caregiver. They are rarely trained for the job of caregiving, but often become indispensable to the person for whom they care, administering medications, managing side effects, communicating with the cancer care team and so much more.

But what about the toll this takes on the caregiver themselves? 

"I think the self-care for the caregiver is something that we often forget about, and we often don't emphasize enough on the clinical side," says Dr. Joan Griffin, a researcher in Health Care Delivery at Mayo Clinic. "And it's really important, because it's a long, hard marathon to be a cancer caregiver."

Extended periods of providing care for someone else can affect the caregiver's own quality of life, including their sleep and mood. It can even lead to depression.

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Griffin shares what caregivers of cancer patients can expect and offers tips on how to take care of themselves at the same time.