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Practical Insights for Busy Caregivers

Imaginative caregiving for the cancer patient


May 28, 2018, by Paul Cavanagh,

“After the drama of diagnosis passes and the preliminary offers of assistance dissipate, a few hardy souls hang in with cancer patients for the long haul. If we are lucky, they tender surprisingly creative acts and gifts.”

So begins Susan Gubar’s April 19, 2018 article in The New York Times. It goes on to describe many imaginative ways that people have come up with to help cancer patients deal with the isolation and vulnerability of their diagnosis. 

One example is Bob Carey’s Tutu Project. When his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, Carey, a commercial photographer, began taking pictures of himself wearing only a pink tutu in public places. He wanted to make her laugh. “Since the images also amused the other patients she met in hospital,” Gubar writes, “they decided to publish them as a coffee-table book called “Ballerina.”

Knowing how to be helpful to someone with cancer isn’t always easy. Gubar, who’s been dealing with ovarian cancer since 2008, writes, “When I was most debilitated, the humblest forms of caring lifted my spirits: the clasp of a hand, a silence shared in tandem. It troubles me that before my diagnosis, I never thought of proffering these simple services to someone else.”

The Canadian Cancer Society suggests several ways of helping someone with cancer, be they a friend, relative or co-worker. These suggestions include tips on visiting and talking with the person.
de Souza Institute offers professionally-led online support groups for Canadians affected by cancer (including family caregivers) at Cancer Chat Canada. We first wrote about this resource on in 2016