Cancer has a huge impact on most people when it is first diagnosed. The person with the disease goes through a wide range of emotions including fear, anger, anxiety and sadness. But those emotions are not restricted to the sufferer. Members of the ill person’s family can also run the gamut of emotions including depression and despair.
So the first step on the road to battling cancer is to accept that everyone involved is affected. Some will suffer a greater impact than others but no-one will be exempt from the difficult times ahead.
So how might the impact of your cancer be seen in your family? Well some family members, particularly children, may suffer fear and anxiety. Young children will see the change in the patient’s appearance and their dietary changes and the attention being given to the patient. This can be confusing and cause anxiety.
Talking about the subject may prove difficult. We all find some subjects hard to discuss. Cancer could be such a subject and as family may not wish to even listen to the subject of treatment and the possible prognosis. This is understandable and it’s important to know that there is no right or wrong when it comes to your reaction to cancer. Your feelings are just that and everyone will react in a different way.
Friends and extended family members will also be affected by the news. But they can also be a source of help and comfort to immediate family.
Fear is a common reaction. They do not understand the disease and they do not know what happens in the hospital when their loved one goes for treatment. Ignorance is not always bliss and sometimes, depending on the family member, it can be a good idea to break down the mystery of cancer treatment. Sometimes knowing what happens and maybe even seeing what happens takes the fear out of fear. It’s the fear of the unknown which can be most frightening.
Guilt is a common feeling amongst us. Why has he or she got cancer and not me? This guilt feeling can have a serious impact on a person and helps make the point that everyone in the family needs help at this time. Of course the cancer patient needs great care and support but close family members can become stressed and ill from the worry and guilt they are experiencing.
Then there are issues like embarrassment and loneliness. Family members may think it is bad for someone to have cancer and it is something one is ashamed of. Sensible and careful explanations can remove that impact. Loneliness is something else. A family member can be surrounded by love but still suffer from loneliness. If the one they love may die, they cannot bear to be parted and the impact of possible loneliness can be tough o bear.
Undoubtedly family members are affected but equally so when the family comes together as a unit, they can help the cancer patient and themselves. It can be a wonderful time for bonding.
by Rita Goldman