Annual Retreat Focuses on Caregiver Wellness
On Saturday, May 18, nearly 30 caregivers of UCSF patients with brain tumors joined us for an annual event dedicated to their well-being. This year, the annual Caregiver Retreat focused on strategies for fostering resilience through knowledge and self-compassion.
Neuro-oncologist Susan Chang, MD, opened the event by acknowledging the challenges faced by those caring for their loved one. “A brain tumor diagnosis affects the whole family,” said Chang, “and we want to empower you with the self-compassion to help you through your caregiving journey.”
This year's Caregiver Retreat featured informational and emotional support sessions, as well as self-care activities like chair massages, and exercise and self-compassion workshops. The day-long event is provided at no cost to caregivers of UCSF Neuro-Oncology patients, and is supported through philanthropic donations to the UCSF Neuro-Oncology Gordon Murray Caregiver Program.
Talks from UCSF faculty and staff included information on how brain tumors affect patients. Neuro-oncologist Jennie Taylor, MD, discussed ‘invisible symptoms’ that may continue to impact patients even during periods of stable disease. These might include difficulties with attention, impulse control, and empathy, among others. Taylor shared specific strategies for caregivers when dealing with this, including a reminder that behavior and mood changes may be related to brain injury, rather than intentional.
Additional sessions highlighted the importance of self-care as a caregiver. “You may think you have to set aside your own needs as a caregiver, but the truth is, that's not sustainable," said Margaretta Page, RN.
Aside from the event’s planned lectures and activities, caregivers consistently report that the most meaningful part of day is the opportunity to connect with others going through similar experiences.
Throughout the day, caregivers were able to share stories, give advice, and take comfort in supporting each other. Given the unique and rare nature of brain tumors, the ability to take part in a community of people that understands your daily challenges is essential.
Learn more about the UCSF Neuro-Oncology Gordon Murray Caregiver Program.