Often the two titles – Advocate or Caregiver are blurred or even misapplied. The role of an advocate is usually one of being more involved by ensuring the best possible information and treatment on a cancer patient’s journey.
A person with a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelmed emotionally. An effective patient advocate will:
- Help a patient be sure they have useful information on the best cancer treatments
- Ensure the doctors and treatments centers are the best for a particular type of cancer
- Attend doctor’s appointments with the patient and take notes for discussion later
- Take steps to help obtain medical treatments quickly
- Pursue insurance companies for the needed approvals
- Contact family members that may live in other cities or states with occasional updates
- Contact a patient’s employer, at the patient’s request, if necessary
- Fix disparities in care
- Find appropriate clinical trials, if possible
- Be aware of a patient’s medical needs and concerns so they can be addressed
A caregiver is usually more for emotional support and will provide needed relief from the seriousness of cancer. Ask how you can help! Make sure family and friends are involved who are positive and bring support in the right way. Help patients take a breath from the daily grind and enjoy small moments that bring joy. Help cancer patients celebrate special occasions like birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Cancer patients need some extra resources for difficult times. Potluck dinners, driving them to appointments, helping with mail, and taking care of children are all examples of being a great caregiver!