Posted 7 months ago

Navigating the High Seas of Compassion: A Guide for Oncology Caregivers and Professionals

Understanding Compassion Fatigue: The Unseen Anchor

In the ocean of oncology care, the caregivers are like dedicated sailors, braving the stormy seas to help others reach the shore of health. However, even the most seasoned sailor can get weighed down by an unseen anchor – compassion fatigue. This is the emotional and physical toll taken by the constant demands of caring. It’s like trying to sail a boat with a hole in it; no matter how fast you go, you’re always taking on water.

Spotting the Signs: The Compass in the Fog

Recognizing compassion fatigue is like using a compass in a dense fog. You might feel like you’re losing direction with symptoms like emotional exhaustion, reduced sense of personal accomplishment, or the feeling that every patient story hits harder than a Netflix drama series finale. If you are a family member, being a caregiver changes your relationship and that may be a source of grief for you that you have not had time to process. Remember, noticing these signs isn’t a weakness; it’s a crucial step in navigating these tricky waters.

Strategies for Staying Afloat: Your Life Raft and Oars

Staying afloat requires some sturdy oars and a reliable life raft. Techniques like setting emotional boundaries (it’s okay not to be a superhero 24/7), engaging in self-care activities (journaling, exercising, and doing things that you love), and seeking support from other friends, family and colleagues can be your oars. Even if you are normally the lighthouse in your family or workplace, it does not mean you do not need support. Learn to ask for help. Professional help can be the life raft that keeps you buoyant.

Sailing Together: A Shared Journey

To all the amazing oncology caregivers and staff, remember that you are part of a larger crew, sailing together on this journey. When the waters get choppy, it’s more than okay to reach out for support. Taking care of yourself isn’t just important, it’s essential to keep navigating these waters with strength and compassion. And to our cherished patients reading this: know that your caregivers deeply respect and care for your journey. They’re alongside you, not just as professionals, but as fellow humans, sharing in the ebbs and flows of this experience.

Jodi Puhalla, BSW

Social Worker for East Valley Offices

Jodi Puhalla obtained her social work degree from MN State University/Moorhead in 1990. She has spent most of her career as a medical social worker in hospitals, long term care facilities and hospice care.

Jodi is a native of Minnesota and moved to the Phoenix area in 2020. She has a passion for holistic healing and meditation. She likes to explore ancient practices for stress management in the modern world. She enjoys supporting others through difficult transitions in their lives.