Man holding groceries outside a home stands arm in arm with his mother, who looks tired

Looking after yourself when you're a caregiver

Looking after yourself when you’re a caregiver

Narrator: My mother has cancer, and I’ve been taking care of her since she started treatment.

[The narrator and his mother are outside of her house. The narrator is holding a bag of groceries. He reaches out to his mother, who looks frail and tired. The scene ends.]

Narrator: My life has changed so much since I became her caregiver and have been looking after her physical, practical and emotional needs. Caring for someone with cancer isn’t easy.

[The narrator is happily working at a construction site. Then he is fishing in a boat. Finally the narrator is sitting with his mother while she is receiving chemotherapy through an IV in her arm. They both look a bit worried. The scene ends.]

Narrator: Caregiving can go on for a few weeks or months, or even longer. I’ve had to take on many new responsibilities while trying to keep up with the usual things I did before.

[A calendar showing June 15 appears in the middle of the screen. The pages of the calendar flip to show days passing and then months. A circle appears around the calendar, and then the circled calendar shrinks and moves to the left of the screen. The narrator and 2 of his coworkers appear at a construction site. They are wearing construction helmets, safety vests and tool belts, and they are looking at a blueprint.]

Narrator: Juggling work with my mom’s treatment schedule has been really hard.

[The focus zooms in on the narrator at work. The screen then splits to also show the narrator sitting with his mother in her doctor’s office. The narrator and his mother look a bit concerned, and the doctor looks kind and reassuring. The scene ends.]

Narrator: Growing up, my mom was the family cook. And now I’m the one trying to make meals to help her stay strong.

[The narrator’s mother as a younger woman and the narrator as a child are in a kitchen. There is a pot on the stove, and the mother stands next to it with a spoon in her hand. They are smiling at each other. Then the young narrator and mother fade out. When they fade back in, they have switched places in the kitchen. The narrator is a grown man again. He is holding a spoon and putting a pot on the stove. He is looking at his mother, who is older again and sitting in a chair. The scene ends.]

Narrator: I have to make sure she has her medicines, help her manage side effects and watch for warning signs, like infection.

[The narrator and his mother are sitting together on a couch. Next to the couch is a side table with prescription bottles on it. The narrator is holding out a glass of water to his mother. He looks concerned but supportive. His mother looks tired. The scene ends.]

Narrator: It’s been really stressful. But it’s also brought me much closer to my mom.

[The narrator is standing with his mother. They have an arm around each other. As the narrator speaks, the narrator and his mother hug and smile at each other. The scene ends.]

Narrator: What I’ve learned so far about coping as a caregiver is that I can’t look after my mom if I’m not looking after myself.

[The narrator is lying in bed. He looks tired and worried. Three thought bubbles appear above him. The first shows several pages of a to-do list. The second shows pill bottles. The third shows a clock with the hands spinning quickly. The scene ends.]

Narrator: I find it hard to ask for help, but asking family and friends to visit my mom lets me take short breaks from caregiving.

[The narrator and his mother appear on the left of the screen. They are both smiling. Three friends and family members appear on the right of the screen. They all look happy and supportive.]

Narrator: I’ve even learned that people are happy to do a chore or bring a meal. And my niece keeps everyone up to date on how Mom is doing.

[As the narrator speaks, a rake appears in the hands of one friend or family member. A pot appears in the second person’s hands. Finally, a cellphone appears in the right hand of the narrator’s niece, and a piece of paper appears in her left hand. The scene ends.]

Narrator: Making time for things I enjoy, like going for a swim and meeting friends for coffee, helps me deal with stress.

[The screen is split into 2 sections. On the left, the narrator is in a pool wearing goggles and a swim cap. On the right, the narrator is having coffee with a friend. The scene ends.]

Narrator: I also joined an online group for caregivers. It helps to talk to people who know what I’m going through.

[The narrator appears on the right of the screen. He is holding his cellphone. A speech bubble with 3 dots appears above the phone to show he is typing a message. On the left, 3 people appear. One is a Canadian Cancer Society employee and the other 2 are members of, the Canadian Cancer Society’s online peer support community. There are lines connecting them to show that they are communicating with one another. Speech bubbles with 3 dots appear next to each person to show they are typing. The scene ends.]

Narrator: Making sure that I take care of myself lets me be the best caregiver I can be for my mom.

[The narrator and his mother are in the kitchen. The narrator is holding a casserole and his mother is holding a salad as they get ready to have dinner together. They are looking at each other and smiling. The scene ends.]

Narrator: The Canadian Cancer Society is also here to help. Visit or call 1-888-939-3333.

[The Canadian Cancer Society’s name, logo, phone number and website appear in the middle of the screen. The Bank of Montreal (BMO) logo appears at the bottom of the screen as a proud sponsor of the Cancer Basics video series.]