Bladder cancer is a fairly common form of cancer in both men and women. It can impact physical and mental health and may require a caretaker during the treatment process.
Caring for someone with bladder cancer can depend on their condition. If you’re supporting someone with bladder cancer, it’s important to care for yourself during this process to avoid burnout while also understanding how to navigate treatment.
A caregiver to someone with bladder cancer will wear many hats.
A caregiver serves as part of the treatment team for someone experiencing a serious illness like bladder cancer. You’ll assist by being their advocate and talking with various specialists while asking questions and taking notes.
You may also help organize their bladder cancer treatment logistics, including doctor’s appointments, financial details, and legal matters.
Depending on the circumstances, it’s possible that you might be making treatment decisions.
Daily life tasks, including getting dressed, eating, bathing, taking appropriate medications, attending appointments, and coordinating in-home care, are also something caregivers assist with, in addition to providing emotional support during treatment.
This may include being present in their life, listening to their feelings, and finding outside support when needed.
Early stages of bladder cancer may require treatments, including:
- removing tumors or part of the bladder
Later stages of bladder cancer may involve more invasive treatments like:
- the surgical removal of the bladder and reconstruction of a method to urinate
- wider-scope chemotherapy
- other treatment methods
Any treatment will require your supportive presence as a caregiver, but later stages of cancer may also include discussions about end-of-life needs.
Side effects of common treatments
Side effects of bladder cancer can vary from person to person and depend on the type of treatment they have. Common side effects include:
- changes to the digestive tract such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- painful urination
- bladder irritation
- hair loss
- development of infections
- changes to the skin
Recovery from surgery or other treatments can take time and may require significant rest.
Caregiving for someone with bladder cancer can lead to burnout if you don’t allow time for yourself and get extra help where needed.
Caregiver burnout can occur when you meet your limit emotionally, mentally, and physically. You can’t provide proper care for someone else if you don’t take care of yourself, too.
One 2020 study found that the stage of people with bladder cancer impacted the quality of life of their caregivers.
Here are some ways you can avoid burning out during your role as a caregiver to someone with bladder cancer:
- Consider hiring someone or asking for help with services such as meal preparation, prescription pickups, household chores, and transportation to appointments.
- Take care of yourself by prioritizing sleep, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced diet.
- Try to stay up-to-date on your own medical needs.
- Look for outlets for your emotional health, including participating in hobbies, journaling, talking with a friend or mental health professional, and seeking a support group for caregivers.
- Plan time for respite care for yourself.
While many bladder cancers are treatable, there’s still a risk of death. Discussing end-of-life issues as a caregiver may be necessary.
Conversations regarding your loved one’s end-of-life needs may include:
- goals for treatment, including when to stop treatment
- end-of-life care, such as hospice care
- legal matters, such as a living will or advanced medical directive
- financial decisions
As a caregiver, you should talk with your loved one as well as seek advice from people who can give helpful information about end-of-life needs.
A lawyer may be helpful when creating a will or advance directive, while someone in the financial sector could ease your mind concerning end-of-life costs.
Support groups for bladder cancer or caregiving may provide helpful resources, and the healthcare team may be able to recommend hospice care.
You might not live near your loved one going through bladder cancer treatments. You can still serve a role as a caregiver in this situation.
You can find resources near your loved one to help them with their treatment, talk with someone from their healthcare team on the phone, and support others who may be filling an in-person caregiver role.
If you can, travel to give the full-time caregiver a break.
Being the support system for someone living with bladder cancer can be rewarding and challenging.
As they navigate their treatment journey, you might assist by helping them manage day-to-day life, arranging medical care, advocating for their needs, and more.
You can help avoid burnout by seeking assistance where needed and giving yourself respite time to recharge along the way.