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A cancer diagnosis is a difficult and life changing situation for anyone. Often when people receive the news, their families gather around them for support. Some try to underplay the importance of family and claim that the patient needs to create a better mental space for him or herself. However, the role that family plays in a cancer patient’s life is simply undeniable.
Staying Strong with Family
One of the most basic roles of the family members is to be a source of support. When a person is diagnosed with cancer, one of the thoughts that certainly will run through their mind is the possibility of death, dying young, and leaving loved ones behind. This is where family members can step up with open communication to let the patient know that they are all going to fight through together. Making sure to talk a lot about feelings of both the patient and family members will help ease stress and make a patient feel supported. Despite any fear, the ability of loved ones to remain strong can inspire a patient. If they can remain strong, then the patient feels that he or she has not lost hope yet.
Becoming a Caregiver
Going through cancer treatments, whether they are weekly visits for chemotherapy or taking medications, is strenuous on a person's body. Nausea, tiredness and weakness are all signs that can be associated with the treatments and with the disease itself. Family member can become involved with a patient’s care by bringing them to appointments and assisting in creating care plans. At home, loved ones can create warm and welcoming spaces for the person to come back home to. For a person with cancer, thinking about dealing with the consequences alone can be terrifying. When they arrive home after their treatments or are in the hospital, seeing their family members can help them to feel better. They know they have someone who is going to advocate for them and take care of them in their times of need.
Finding a New Normal
Family is also important because they can help engage a patient in their normal activities. Some assume that all cancer diagnoses mean that the patient can no longer do the hobbies and pursuits that they used to do, but this thought is simply not the truth. For example, adult children can make sure their mother with cancer is still able to make it to church, or a couple who has a child with cancer can still take her to her Girl Scout meetings.
It's all going to depend upon the actual state of the individual person and their diagnosis, but families can work together to make the best possible situation and keep hope alive.