Supporting a loved one's cancer journey
Anyone who has received a diagnosis of cancer automatically enters a passageway and is forever changed. None of us knows where the tunnel will let out until we get there. This, understandably, brings up many emotions.
At any point along the way, from diagnosis to life posttreatment, the person you care for might feel
anxious or overwhelmed, wondering what is to come (pain? future recurrence?) or how to face all the decisions
sad or hopeless about ever feeling fully whole again or that the best of life is over
guilty about being a burden and a drain
angry that life hasn't been fair
profoundly grateful for the simplest pleasures
Denying or dismissing these strong feelings does not help. Instead, offer your steady companionship for the journey:
Provide an outlet. "Mom, I can imagine you have a ton of different feelings. No matter what they are, I'm up for hearing about it. Sometimes it helps to just let your feelings out."
Respect privacy. Not everyone likes to talk about feelings. Writing in a journal, praying, or other means of expression may be more comfortable. A simple way to stay tuned in is a "scale of 0 to 10" approach. "Seems like it's kind of a tough day. If 10 is really, really bad, where would you say you are today? A 7? A 9?"
Learn what you can. Many worries can be resolved with information. Help identify the questions. Work with your relative's care team to get the answers.
Accentuate the positive. Focus attention on what your loved one can still do. Encourage visits from friends who bring warmth and humor. Support the simple joys available in each day.
When to get professional help. It's time for help if your loved one is stuck in an extreme pattern, such as endless crying or profound withdrawal from usual activities. Other important signs include trouble sleeping, intense fear, or talk of suicide. Contact the doctor for treatment and guidance.
Is cancer a part of your family's journey?
As the north Texas experts in family caregiving, we at Caring With Grace know how emotionally exhausting this condition can be for the patient and for the relatives who love them. You don't have to go through this alone. Give us a call at (214) 789-6402.