Cancer Impacts the Whole Family: Reflections of Caregivers
We all know that a cancer diagnosis also affects family members to a great extent—but it’s difficult to fathom how much of your reality can change when this happens. We often see glimpses of how cancer can affect healthy and happy families, but it’s when you go through the experience yourself that you understand the full extent of the impact.
Some of the most significant changes that cancer patients’ families report are:
- Changing roles. After the diagnosis, there’s a shift in the overall dynamic. As treatment proceeds, the patient is unable to carry out tasks they did previously, which can be painful to accept for the patient and a challenge for their family as they do their best to compensate.
- Expanded Responsibilities. From doctor appointments, caring for children, office work, and house chores, it’s an endless to-do list.
- Children. Having children in the equation comes with its own unique challenges. Kids can often sense that something’s wrong, so many parents choose to discuss the situation with their kids.
Strategies to Cope
Different people react to the situation differently. The family dynamic, presence of children, and support from friends and extended family members all play a part in how a family comes to terms with the new reality.
Having spent time with so many families who were battling cancer, here are some strategies that have helped many families cope:
- Give yourself time. Learning that a loved one has cancer is a difficult process. There are several thoughts racing through your mind, all at once. Give yourself time to understand the situation and process the grief.
- Focus on the facts. It’s easy to fall down a rabbit-hole during your online research and let fear cloud your judgment. Remember that each person’s cancer is different, and their treatment will also be different. Focus on your situation and avoid getting overwhelmed by other people’s outcomes.
- Listen to your loved one. Take time to understand what’s going through the other person’s mind. Airing thoughts can help both you and your loved one release pent-up emotions.
- Accompany them to the doctor. A qualified healthcare professional will be able to answer your questions best because they are aware of your specific situation. Knowing more about the treatment and potential outcomes can help ease nerves and help your family make more informed decisions.
- Ensure self-care. You can’t take care of a sick loved one if you’re unwell yourself. Keep your health a priority by eating smart, getting proper sleep, and exercising. Incorporate daily practices to help relax your mind too, with different techniques like yoga, aromatherapy, or meditation.
Battling cancer can feel like an uphill battle sometimes, but it’s easier with friends and family members supporting you during rough days. My CareCrew is one of the best apps for cancer patients with several tools to help you manage your schedule and coordinate support. Whether you need someone to walk your dog or just hang out for a while, this useful app for cancer patients can make things much easier.
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