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How to Deal with Cancer in the Family?

Finding out a close one has cancer can be an extremely agonizing experience. The closer you are to the person concerned, the more stressed and pained you will be. It is alright to take time to process your feelings before confronting the person. You need to reconcile yourself with this bitter truth to be able to offer emotional support to him/her. However, if you feel you want to help the person with an emotional cancer remedy, communication and flexibility are the main mantras in this regard. In order to deal with cancer in the family, here are some cancer tips so that you can grow comfortable listening to, talking with, and being around the person.

a. Listen : this is the biggest challenge when a loved one faces a cancer diagnosis, which can be life-threatening. When it comes to cancer in the family, the key is to listen without judging or “cheerleading”. The best thing you can do on your part to lend cancer help your loved one’s well-being is to simply sit with them as they share their feelings.

b. Share your advice only when asked : as a friend or loved one, it is very natural for you to delve deep into the diagnosis, treatment options or clinical trials to offer cancer help. Feel free to carry on with your research, as long as the information is not too overwhelming. However, avoid saying things like “You ought to try this” or “You should do that.” Instead, let your loved one know you’re doing your best to find all that you can, and allow them to decide if they want to know more.

c. Make yourself aware: many reputed organizations offer cancer help in the form of informative literature and user-friendly content that provide detailed cancer tips about the types of cancer treatment, side effects, and other associated concerns. This can make a huge difference in terms of dealing with cancer in the family.

d. Support the treatment decisions of your loved one : while you may be equipped enough to share decision-making, ultimately it is the cancer patient’s call; remember it is their body and spirit that is having to deal with the impact of cancer.

e. Try to be the caregiver in the true sense of the term : caregiver for cancer in the family usually refers to the spouse, partner, parent, or adult child of the person with cancer. You can take on necessary tasks such as driving to the clinics/diagnostic centres, arranging medical appointments, and providing the required care and emotional support. You can also take up many of the roles that were previously handled by the person diagnosed with cancer. This way the person will benefit significantly from your help.

f. Stay connected : cancer treatment is often a long, elaborate journey that continues long after the medical procedures are complete. People with cancer often confess they don’t hear much from their close family members or friends once the initial crisis of diagnosis is over. However, it is strongly advisable to check in with them regularly, even in the long haul. It is both helpful and meaningful for the person living with cancer.

g. Keep things as normal as possible : it is natural for you to want to make life easier for the person by “doing things'' for them. This type of cancer help makes us feel “useful” for them, but is often more of a subconscious self-validation than actually helping them out. Since we are otherwise feeling helpless in the situation, this is a way of giving ourselves an ego massage, however, it’s equally important to respect their wishes to continue their normal “pre-cancer” tasks. If they can cook dinner or continue working, it might mitigate the feeling that the impact of cancer is taking over their lives. Also, try to understand whether at all they want to discuss their cancer; if not, don’t strike a conversation centred around their diagnosis.

h. Be receptive to their needs even when the treatment is over : it's often the post-treatment phase that overwhelms the person with cancer with what they’ve just been through. Many people find it challenging to process the enormity of the entire experience and the different ways in which the treatment takes a toll on them. Prior to this, the medical concerns, including treatment and its side-effects occupied their attention, so much so that things could hardly sink in. But after this period, they may not need your help getting through the treatment process, but your emotional support can be hugely impactful.

Cancer can trigger a wide range of psychological responses amongst people

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Being mindful when approaching a Cancer patient The most important thing when talking to a close one with cancer is to listen and understand how they feel. While cancer prevention is not fully in our hands, we can make a big difference in terms of being a pillar of support to a loved one with cancer. It is rightly said that the risk of cancer is not confined to physical effects alone; it takes a huge toll on one’s psychological well-being too. Strongly refrain from making light of, judging, or trying to change the way the person feels or acts. Cancer brings along a lot of uncertainty and fear, which may make the person angry, depressed, or withdrawn; understand that all of this is normal and with time, they will accept this new reality.

However, if this continues for too long or goes out of bounds, you can seek additional help from a support group or mental health professional. They may also suffer from a strong sense of guilt if they believe they’ve done something to cause cancer. They may also be made to feel guilty by others. This is called stigma and can lead to self-blame, isolation, depression, etc. Under such circumstances, try to be reassuring and express your care to facilitate cancer remedy, emotionally. Make them understand that though they cannot change the past, they can take charge of the present situation and approach their treatment, quality of life, and follow-up care with caution.

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