Caring for the Caregiver Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

In part one of The Who Cares for the Caregiver series, we learned who caregivers are, We also looked at the affect caring for someone who has cancer or another serious illness, has on them. In Part two, we learned specific ways you can help a caregiver. In today’s post, the third and final installment in the caregiver series, we learn about the effect of caring for caregivers.

Hearing Crickets

I’m a very private, introverted person. At the time my husband, Dan was diagnosed with cancer, we hadn’t been married long. I was a stay at home mom and didn’t have many strong friendships.  So when the people found out that Dan had cancer, many calls and texts came to his cell phone and countless caring emails arrived in his inbox.

I got a total of two, so I felt very much alone.

Pe Prepared to help someone in crisis

The Turning Point

That changed when I received an email from my sister-in-law, Marion, on the evening of November 2, 2012. Here’s what she said*:

Praying for you on THIS day, today—

That Dan’s results would be given to you by the end of the day. 

That the results would be so much better than


That you would be able to get at least an idea of a treatment plan and what to expect in the coming weeks

That you would physically feel the peace of the many, many people praying for you today as you wait,                                                                                                                                        

and that you would end the day encouraged, and filled with hope for your family’s future.

Know that your family is deeply loved by God, by family and by friends. 

Kevin, the girls and I had a family prayer meeting last night for all of you.

I felt loved and cared for


Everything she had prayed in that email had been on my heart and mind. I knew that God had moved her to write to me in my time of greatest need.

It was then that I knew I wasn’t alone. I’ll never forget the way I felt, knowing that someone cared, at a time I felt like no one did. She had no idea what a difference her words would make.

From that time forward, Marion became become my biggest cheerleader and my best friend. She’s been used by God in so many ways to enable me to be a good caregiver for Dan.

Why this caring email was so important

Marion continued to send me encouraging emails.

While she and her family have done many more acts of kindness for me and my family, I wanted to focus on this email. That’s because of the power such a simple thing has, to change someone’s life.

The irony is that at the time, she thought I had lots of support.

As time went on, and I became bold enough to make my needs known, many kind people showed me caring support. but in the beginning that wasn’t the case.

Often, I talk to people who say they want to help patients and caregivers, but they feel like something as simple as a card or an email wouldn’t make a difference. Too often people feel that way and it prevents them from reaching out, to remind those going through a difficult trial that they aren’t alone. I can tell you that it makes a huge difference.

I tell this story to encourage you to reach out to the people in your life who are supporting someone who has cancer, or any other life-altering diagnosis. They need support too. The love you show them can make all the difference in the world.

These suggestions come from chapter 10 of the book, Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone who has Cancer

The kindness of strangers

Caring for the Caregiver

Another reason people don’t call or send caring notes is that they worry they will be a bother. They think the job of caring is better left to close family and friends.

During the Christmas of 2015, when Dan was particularly ill, we received the kindness of strangers. A couple we didn’t know who attended my in-laws’ church, called, asking if they could come to see us. They brought us a poinsettia to brightened our home at a time when the future looked dark.

Even more, they brought the love of Christ. They listened to us and prayed for us. When they left, I felt so filled with hope in the midst of a seemingly hopeless situation. While they entered our home as strangers,  they left as friends.

Our Daughter, Sam

While researching for my upcoming book, Facing Cancer as a Parent, I interviewed my daughter, Sam, who was 14 at the time, about what it’s like to have a parent with cancer. I asked what surprised her the most about our experience.

She said, “How much people have supported us, I knew people would be there for us, but it has really been amazing, how wonderful they’ve been.”

Remember that it’s not just the patient who is blessed by your support and care. It’s their family as well.

This is my challenge to you:Facing Cancer

Brighten someone’s world with just a few moments of compassion. consider caring for a caregiver. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture (but it can be). Something to let someone know you are thinking of them in their time of need can mean a lot. If you need help with ideas, check out part 2 of this series. It gives some specific ways to show a caregiver that YOU care.

Want to go deeper?

Get my book, Facing Cancer as a friend. This series was adapted from Chapter 10. I cover loads of topics ranging from how to talk to someone with cancer, practical ways you can show your support, gifts, and much more. If you’d like to read a recent review, check it out here, on one of my favorite blogs, WordDreams.

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since my husband, Dan was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness.

My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone who Has Cancer, is available on

The Erickson Family, Photo by Everbranch Photography



*Reprinted with permission

2 thoughts on “Caring for the Caregiver Doesn’t Have to Be Hard”

  1. As someone with a chronic illness, I’m always so thankful when my parents or somebody else focuses on my boyfriend for a change, because it’s not easy on him too. It’s great to see that he gets an extra special birthday gift or a little present just because and even when they are on his side when I tell them about an argument we’ve had. While we are suffering through illness, they are suffering as well and should not be forgotten. He is my hero. I wish you well with everything you’re dealing with.

    • When I was first diagnosed with RA and Fibromyalgia, I felt like I would be a burden on my family. My husband experienced that same thing when he was diagnosed with cancer. When your loved ones get the support they need, it eases that.

      I’m glad you have someone to care for you and that others care for him as he does. Best wishes to you both!

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