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Family and Community

Dear Iris: I’m Managing It All

Dear Iris,

I’m the person supporting and caring for my loved one who’s going through treatment. It’s a lot to keep track of... I’m managing the appointments, I’m managing the medication, I’m managing the symptoms, I’m managing the household, I’m managing the family schedule, I’m managing it all—or at least it feels that way. What I’m not managing... myself. How do I balance managing it all while finding time for myself? And please know, I’m not complaining at all. I just want to be better for my loved one, family, and myself.


Dear S,

Taking on a caregiver role can be overwhelming and leave little room for self-care. I want to acknowledge that for many, being a caregiver means there are new commitments and often changes in roles that can feel demanding and stressful. Allow yourself grace and acceptance as you adjust to these changes, and strive to find a balance between caregiving responsibilities and personal commitments.

It's natural to miss the freedom of your previous life and to feel frustrated or a sense of loss for how things used to be. It's okay to allow yourself to experience these emotions.

Remember, taking time for yourself isn't just beneficial; it's essential. It's an investment in your well-being and enhances your ability to provide meaningful care for your loved one. As the airplane safety announcement reminds us, “Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”

When your loved one is receiving care from the clinic team or other caregivers, use that time for yourself. While it may seem logical to spend every available moment on pending tasks, it's crucial to balance these with moments of relaxation and enjoyment. Consider completing only tasks that are a priority and postponing the others. Start with small acts of self-care, like spending fifteen minutes with a favorite book or catching up with a friend over the phone on topics unrelated to caregiving.

Experiment with asking for support and accepting help. It can feel vulnerable, but allowing others to support you can help prevent burnout and give you some time and space to recharge. It can also be a way to allow your community concrete ways to show their care and support.

Consider a care calendar to help you coordinate help, here are a few calendars to consider:  

Remember, caring for yourself is not an act of selfishness—it's a cornerstone of good caregiving and a testament to the strength and compassion you bring to your loved one's life every day.

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Loreal Massiah, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, TTS

Senior Oncology Social Worker

Iris Oncology

Loreal Massiah is a licensed clinical social worker with 14 years of oncology experience focused on supporting patients and their families throughout the cancer journey. She has a certification in oncology social work as well as tobacco cessation counseling. Loreal has had the pleasure of working alongside cancer survivors in advocacy roles to promote change in access to affordable treatment throughout the country; she has extensive experience working in cancer survivorship and caregiver support; she also has a special interest in health equity, diversity, and inclusion in medical care.

This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.