This April marks the LUNGevity Foundation‘s second COPE Summit, held during its 9th Annual International Lung Cancer Survivorship Conference, April 26-28 in Washington, D.C. Directed toward caregivers of loved ones with lung cancer, the COPE Summit is one of three simultaneous summits at the Conference, which features a full weekend of information, networking and support designed to educate, connect and empower anyone who has been impacted by lung cancer.
“Lung cancer caregivers often report that they feel isolated and unsupported in their communities,” said Katie Brown, OPN-CG, vice president of Support and Survivorship Programs, LUNGevity Foundation. “Lung cancer is a disease with many misconceptions and stigmas. Because of that, there may be a sense of guilt, shame or anger associated with the disease. Unfortunately, practical services and emotional support for patients and their families is lacking in most communities.”
The COPE Summit was created to help bridge that gap, with sessions focusing on relationship issues, practical issues, and caregiver roles and needs. Caregiver burnout and “lone soldier syndrome” will be two of the topics covered. Caregivers and their loved ones will also be able to take advantage of large panel discussions with lung cancer experts.
Lung Cancer Caregiver Resources
The COPE Summit is just one of the many services and resources the LUNGevity Foundation provides for lung cancer caregivers. LUNGevity also offers an online Caregiver Resource Center with articles, videos, caregiving tips and other resources. A toll-free Lung Cancer HELPLine (844-360-5864) connects caregivers directly with oncology social workers and caregiver mentors. Caregiver-specific Twitter chats are held several times a year.
The online Caregiver Resource Center also provides detailed information on end-of-life planning, including legal and financial considerations, hospice decisions, how to prepare when death is near, and tips for coping with grief and loss.
“Many of legal and end-of-life issues should be addressed by all adults, regardless of whether or not they are ill,” Brown said. “If these conversations are too difficult for families, they may want to enlist the help of an oncology social worker, patient navigator or therapist.”
Self-Care for Caregivers
“It is crucial for caregivers to become educated about their loved one’s diagnosis, and their type and stage of lung cancer,” said Brown. “Our resources will help them help their loved one and will also help them practice self-care, which is equally important.”
Brown added that caregivers need their own practical and emotional support system. She encourages caregivers to ask for help and accept help when it’s offered. She also advises caregivers to take breaks from caregiving when they can and get as much rest as possible.
Editor’s Note: The LUNGevity Foundation’s mission is to make an immediate impact on increasing quality of life and survivorship for people with lung cancer by accelerating research into early detection and more effective treatments, as well as providing community, support and education for all those affected by the disease. LUNGevity’s ultimate goal is a world where no one dies of lung cancer. For more information, visit www.LUNGevity.org.