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Step by Step Weekly Planning for Cancer Caregivers.

Hand and blue pen writing in weekly planner. Text overlay says step by step weekly planning for cancer caregivers

Life doesn’t stop when cancer drops into your family.  Things just get much more complicated. Weekly planning is the ONLY way I’ve been able to manage all of the chaos that comes with being a cancer caregiver.

When my dad was first diagnosed with Lung Cancer, things got really crazy, really quick.  

One minute everything was normal, and the next minute I was running head first into an explosion of information overload, appointments, and  treatments… 

Cancer is a ton of stress and uncertainty.  It’s like living in a pressure cooker.  You find yourself emotional and overwhelmed by pretty much everything.

And on top of that you’re trying to manage an endless to do list (where literally everything feels like a priority).  

Heads up!  What if we could take away some of your cancer-related stress?  

What if we could show you a quick and easy way to organize important medical information so you can actually find what you’re looking for?

No hassle, no stress, with a quick and easy set up that takes minutes to maintain.  And the best part… It’s 100% Free.

You can get the Cancer Binder Pack here…

This whole situation is really intense.

Weekly planning ahead of time makes sure you know exactly where you need to be, what you need to do and helps ensure that nothing major gets missed.

Cancer is like a bomb drops into your family and your whole world explodes.

And in its wake it leaves appointments (tons of them), scans, treatments, doctors, nurses, insurance companies, medication, symptoms, side effects, STRESS… The list is endless.

You can’t deal with everything flying at you unless you have a plan. 

You won’t make it, I don’t care how good you are. This cancer business is like a 60+ hour job.  

Weekly planning is quick and easy.  It helps you stay organized, know what’s coming and makes sure the important stuff is taken care of.

It will save you a ton of time and a lot of energy.

And as a bonus, it gives you some control in the midst of a completely chaotic and uncontrollable situation.

Weekly planning breaks everything down so you can look at the week as a whole.  Then you know ahead of time which days are going to be crazy, and which days you might just make it.  

Once you know what your week looks like, you have the ability to head off any nonsense that might come up.  🙂

Being a cancer family is hard.  One of the first things you realize is that without a plan you’re just aimlessly running around trying to manage all of this.

It’s stressful and overwhelming and you’re completely out of your element.  A weekly plan gives you a road map to where you need to be, things you need to do, and priorities that need to be handled. 

Without a plan, you’ll be dropping “balls” all over the place… 

Ask me how I know ????

The Best Way to Start Weekly Planning

Step #1: Consider Your Unique Situation.

Mother and son looking at information on a tablet.   considering options.

Start this process by considering your whole situation and everything that comes with it.  

Here’s our example: My dad, and now my husband, mom and father-in-law all receive treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering which is over 2 hours away from where we live.  

I do most of the driving, so I attend almost all of the appointments. 

So for us, appointments and treatment might mean…
  • Overnight trips.  
  • All day stacked appointments with a 4 hour commute (for more than one person because that’s less travel for us).
  • Planning for traffic into or out of NYC depending on the time. 
  • Or, all day trips that start at 2 am. (We’ve done a few of those as well… staying in the City is expensive).

That means that while I’m running all over the place, I have to make sure there is a plan for my husband (if he’s not with me) and the kids for things like dinner and laundry. 

 I need to have something quick and easy for dinner, that my husband can make that everyone likes.  If I don’t have a plan for that, I know to expect a huge take-out bill that we can’t afford on a regular basis.  

I also know that things like laundry can be an issue because my husband wears suits for work and will need clean shirts and if the kids have sports their uniforms will need washing. 

Finally, I need to work.  My job is flexible and location independent so I can work from anywhere, but I have to schedule in time to get my work done (so for me that might be extra hours the day before or after one of these trips to make sure I meet any deadlines).

Using this system is especially helpful to make sure I don’t miss anything important on those really crazy and hectic days!

Step 1: Action Steps

  • Think about your unique situation and how that will affect the weekly plan.

Consider things like…

  • Travel Times
  • Overnight Visits
  • Schedule of appointments (something like dialysis would affect your schedule significantly)
  • Kid Pickup/Drop offs
  • Child Care/School Schedules
  • Work Schedule

Step #2:  Start with Your Daily Schedule.

Weekly planner on pink background surrounded by pen and plants.

The most important part of your weekly planning is the day to day schedule.  If you have a planner that you use consistently, grab it.  

If not you can grab our weekly planning page here…

  • What’s going on during the week that you have to plan for?  
  • Where do you need to be?
  • What needs to be done?

 Think about things like…

  • Appointments
  • Pharmacy runs
  • Scans
  • Treatment
  • Bloodwork
  • Picking up kids
  • Grocery shopping
  • Soccer games
  • School concerts
  • Kids home from school 
  • Work schedule
  • Scheduled overtime
  • Errands (haircuts, oil changes, books from the library)
  • Defrosting meat for dinner

Once you’ve identified everything that’s going on, you can start your weekly planning…

Step 2: Action Steps

  • Write down everything you have going on for the week. (Hint:  Use a pencil or a Frixon pen)
  • Put a star next to any days that you can already tell are going to be hectic.  
  • Consider if there are any tasks on the list that you can delegate to someone else?
  • Underline anything from your week that is NOT a priority.  This is your “want to do list” will allow you to skip them if the week goes berserk.  

Step #3:  Plan Your Meals.

Spagetti with meat sauce and basil garnish in a white bowl sitting on a cutting board.

Meal planning saves a ton of time and money and you should include it in your weekly planning.  This way, you know what you’re making, when you are making it and if you do it right, you’ll have all of the ingredients in the house and you’ll be ready to roll.

Because you have planned in advance (which you can do from the couch while watching Netflix), you have a strategy of meals that your family will eat (and like!) ready to go.

When things get hectic, you can relax because you are already ahead of the game.

You can find instructions for meal planning here…

Step 3: Action Steps

  • Jot down your meal plan for each day.   Stick with 15- 30 minute meals and schedule one for every night.  (If you need quick and easy meal ideas you can find them here and here… )

Step #4:  Establish Work Times

hands using rose gold iphone to text schedule for work.

Depending on your situation and the position your loved one is in, you may need to make some changes at work. (Hint:  If you live in the US, FMLA will protect your  job for several weeks if you’re a caregiver, you can read more about that here…

  • Have your hours or days at work changed?
  • What hours will you be working?
  • Are there days you’ll need to take off?
  • Are you scheduled for extra or different hours?
  • Have you reduced to a lighter schedule because of this situation?

If you need some ideas to supplement your income FROM HOME this is the best list i’ve found.

Step 4: Action Steps

  • Write down any days and times you’re scheduled to work for the week.
  • If your hours are flexible, make a note of the times you plan to block out for work.

Step #5:  Schedule Stress Relief

Woman in fuzzy socks,  cozy home wear relaxing at home with sleeping dog Jack Russel terrier, drinking cocoa and using laptop.

PLAN FOR THIS.  

The 21 months that I helped my dad battle cancer was hands down the most stressful time of my life. It was also one of the most incredible times of my life.   

YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT SOME TIME TO RELAX.

If you don’t find the time to do the things that matter to you, to rest and relax you’re going to burn out quickly.  And as you know, you could be running this schedule for the next 10 years.  In fact, I pray that you are.

You are going to have to schedule in some time to take a break.  Start with small amounts of time and build up from there.

If you’re not sure how to start scheduling time for stress relief, we can walk you through the whole process here…

If you need ideas to get started you can find them here and here

Step 5: Action Steps

  • Schedule 15 minutes of “me time” every day this week.

Step #6: Plan for Your Bills

Couple in the kitchen looking over finances and determining a plan.

Schedule this!  Every week.

When all of this started, it never occurred to me how drastically everything would change.

Things that you naturally do all the time get missed and you won’t even realize it.

When my dad first got diagnosed and we were running all over the place…

And every bill I owed was either late or completely forgotten.  I spent the next month trying to catch up and figure out what was paid/not paid so I could get back on track.

By adding a monthly bill payment checklist to my weekly planning,   I knew what was/wasn’t paid and what was coming up.  This system lets you check things off as you pay them, so you always know where you’re at and you can adjust as needed.

Step 6: Action Steps

  • Write down all of your monthly bills, payment amounts and the due dates on a sheet of paper.
  • Mark any bills that need to be paid this week on your weekly planning page.
  • Check off bills as they are paid for the month.

And that’s it.  That’s the whole process for weekly planning.  

When you’re helping someone you love deal with a diagnosis like cancer, there is literally information, appointments, and emergencies flying at you from every angle.

Weekly planning is the ONLY way I’ve been able to manage everything that we have going on without completely losing my mind.  Things will definitely change as you go along, but just having a quick basic overall plan is a LIFE SAVER.  And, you can make adjustments as you go along.  

When it comes to cancer EVERYTHING is subject to change but with a little bit of pre-planning (which you can do at night while you’re watching TV), you will feel a lot more in control of the day-to-day craziness.

I’d love to know your results after your first week!  Let me know in the comments.

P.S.  If you’re overwhelmed by all this cancer business, we can relate!  

The Cancer Binder Pack will walk you through the quick and easy system we used to organize our medical information.  Step-by-step instructions, printable forms, and monthly calendar pages so you can ALWAYS find what you need when you need it. And the best part, it’s FREE…

You can get the Cancer Binder Pack here…

Hand and blue pen writing in weekly planner. Text overlay says step by step weekly planning for cancer caregivers

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