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If you are a caregiver, you are probably a loved one who provides emotional support and possibly the lifeline for an individual with cancer. It is important to let the patient know that you are happy to be there for them. At the same time, make your feelings and concerns known in a way that reassures them that you are here for them and use “I” statements.

When talking to your loved one’s medical team, make sure you ask their doctor about what needs to be done in order to allow the medical team to talk to you about your loved one’s care. It is important to ask because there are healthcare laws that can prevent you from getting your loved one’s health care information without their presence.

It is important that you try to make it to your loved one’s doctor appointments and treatments. This can be a good way to be able to keep up with what is happening with their treatment and ask questions or mention symptoms that the patient might forget to ask or mention.

Where do I start?

Information for New Patients is a collection of quick links to find a doctor, make an appointment, directions, dining and meal services, parking information, etc.

It also includes videos for new patient orientation, available in both English and Spanish, and a digital copy of the UNC Cancer Care Patient Guide. The guide answers some of the questions that patients and their loved ones most frequently ask, and will help provide directions to different resources you may need throughout your caregiving journey at the N.C. Basnight Cancer Hospital.

Who is your care team?

Knowing who is on your care team may be confusing.

Here are five tips for building a relationship with your care team: 

  1. Ask Me Now — Don’t hesitate to ask questions.
  2. Introduction — Introduce yourself to your health care team members.
  3. Staying Connected — Use when you are at home. You can email your provider, request a prescription refill, check test results, and much more.
  4. Write it Down — Keep a list of questions you want to ask you healthcare team.
  5. Contact List — Collect the contact information for each member of your care team.

Being an advocate for your loved one

When your loved one is going through cancer treatment, it may be difficult for them to share their thoughts and feelings with the larger healthcare team. Treatment is an exhausting process, both physically and emotionally, which may drain your loved one of the needed energy to advocate for themselves.

As a caregiver, an important part of your role is acting as a “middle man” between your loved one and their healthcare team. Even if you feel very comfortable representing your loved one, the amount of information, opinions, and decisions to sort through can feel overwhelming at times – particularly if you are also tired, worried for your loved one, and uncomfortable in a hospital setting.

The resources below may help you organize your thoughts, ask the right questions when you interact with providers and hospital staff, and make sure you are supported through the process of advocating for your loved one.

Resource Links

My UNC Chart
Every patient within the UNC Healthcare system is registered on MyUNCChart which allows them and their loved ones to access to medical files and communicate with providers.

Caregiving at the Hospital
Provides tips for navigating care for your loved one while at the hospital.

Questions to ask the Doctor

The Important Steps Caregivers and Patient Advocates Should Take When a Patient is Discharged from the Hospital
My Home Visit Comprehensive Quality Healthcare

Becoming A Patient Advocate for Your Loved One
Visiting Nurse Services of New York
Provides strategies that patients’ family members can follow to stay organized and keep the patient comfortable during their stay at the hospital.

Patient Advocate: An Important Role For Caregivers
Get Palliative Care
Though primarily focused on caregivers advocating for the older adult patient, this resource may be useful to caregivers of loved ones with cancer at any age. It explains the role of the advocate and provides a list of essential questions caregivers might want to consider when discussing treatment options with providers.

Inside the Hospital

We’re Here For You

The Patient and Family Resource Center serves as the central location of the Comprehensive Cancer Support Program at the N.C. Basnight Cancer Hospital. It is located on the ground floor of the N.C. Cancer Hospital, next to the pharmacy. It serves as the central hub for services available to patients, caregivers, and their families in order to help them meet challenges related to cancer treatment, diagnosis, and outside life issues.

Quiet Spaces

While at the N.C. Basnight Cancer Hospital, there may be times when you need a quiet space to rest your mind.

The Reflection/Meditation Room and the Chapel are always open to provide a place of peace and renewal for patients, visitors and staff affected by cancer. These spaces can be found on the ground floor of the cancer hospital.

Outside Spaces

You and your loved one may be spending most of your time inside the hospital. It is important to step outside every now and then to get some fresh air. Below are a list of outside spaces at the N.C. Basnight Cancer Hospital and city of Chapel Hill that both caregivers and hospital staff recommend.

Outside Patio
Located outside of the Starbucks in the lobby of the N.C. Basnight Cancer Hospital, the patio has chairs and tables with umbrellas so you can sit in the sun or the shade. The area is fenced-in so children can run around to burn some energy.

Located just outside of the N.C. Basnight Cancer Hospital, you can walk the labyrinth to gather your thoughts or sit nearby on a bench. It can be accessed by taking the elevator to the basement level and exiting the glass doors by Radiology.

North Carolina Botanical Garden
Just a few minutes’ drive from the N.C. Cancer Hospital, there are multiple gardens with walking paths that are free to the public.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus (campus map)
UNC is known for its beautiful, historic campus. Since students are always walking to and from class, there are plenty of well-lit sidewalks and crosswalks – which makes it a safe and enjoyable place to walk.

What is a “teaching hospital”?

A teaching hospital not only treats patients, but also trains the next generation of health care providers.

UNC Health Care works closely with the UNC School of Medicine and other health related departments to train new doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals with hands-on experience.

Teaching hospitals also do research and clinical trials (tests for new drugs or treatments) to discover better ways to treat our patients. This means that the healthcare providers at UNC Health Care have received the best training and are up-to-date on the latest information about cancer care.