Mouth Cancer Caregiver Advice

To be a mouth cancer caregiver is to give basic care to a person who has a serious condition.

Coping with Mouth Cancer

Mouth cancer is an umbrella term that covers all types of cancers in the mouth area. A caregiver should know exactly what specific type of mouth cancer their patient has, and what the patient’s current treatment entails.

Mouth cancer is treated in three basic ways, and most medical professionals prescribe a mixture of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or surgery. Each type of treatment will have its share of side effects, and it is important that the caregiver knows what to expect to better cope with the mouth cancer.

A mouth cancer caregiver should also know the symptoms of mouth cancer, which generally involve:

  • bad breath
  • cheeks begin to thicken
  • chewing difficulties
  • jaw movement that is difficult and/or painful
  • lump in the neck
  • mouth pain
  • sore or sores in the mouth that do not heal but increase gradually (also lumps of white, red or even dark patches in the mouth)
  • swallowing difficulties
  • teeth pain, even loosening the teeth
  • tongue moves with difficulty or becomes numb
  • voice changes.

It’s important to know what the mouth cancer patient is going through in order for the caregiver to sympathize with the pain that the sufferer is going through and point out any new symptoms to the patient’s doctor. In addition to the pain, a mouth cancer sufferer may have difficulty speaking, so it will be necessary to work out a non-verbal way of asking for things using pictures or hand signs.

Caregiver Support

Whether someone is a paid caregiver, or giving aid to an ailing friend or family member, there are three important things to remember:

  • Health: A caregiver must not forget her own health and wellbeing when caring for a mouth cancer patient. A caregiver needs to make sure to have a balanced diet, get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, as well as attend doctor’s visits of her own to insure good health.
  • Organization: Staying organized is also another way to keep ahead of the caregiving game. The balance of family and other aspects of life with caregiving can be a daunting task, so it is best to begin a schedule that is broken up into appropriate sections.
  • Support Team: Creating a plan to get people involved who can help with caregiving tasks. Keep a list of people’s names, along with phone numbers and what they are best at or like to do. The caregiver should keep the list close, so at a moment’s notice, he or she can contact help when in need.

Benefits of a Caregiver Support Group

Mouth cancer caregivers often feel a mixture of emotions and stress when dealing with a mouth cancer patient, and this is completely normal.

One of the best ways to deal with these emotions is to join a support group. Caregivers can share their experiences and feelings with those who are going through similar situations.

To find a support group that meets your needs, contact your doctor or the American Cancer Society.

Resources

Family Doctor (2007). Cancer: When You’re a Caregiver. Retrieved August 15, 2007, from the familydoctor.org Web site: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/cancer/caregivers/719.html.

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (2007). Suggestions for Managing Care at Home. Retrieved August 15, 2007, from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Web site: http://www.seattlecca.org/patientsandfamilies/support/education/suggestionsManagingcare.htm.