Olympic skater and cancer patient Peggy Fleming has once said, “Coping with breast cancer is almost easier for the woman, because she knows what her job is, while family members orbit around her in confusion, trying to figure out what to do, how to feel.”
That is not far from the truth. Breast cancer can have a profound effect on family members and friends. Unfortunately, a lot of literature and media stories deal with those who are suffering from breast cancer, and not for their family, friends and relatives.
Here are some tips to help family and friends cope when a loved one is suffering from breast cancer:
- Don’t be shy. Ask the doctor questions if you accompany your loved one to his or her appointments.
- Be prepared for unexpected mood and behavioral changes in your loved one. Medications, treatment, discomforts, and stress can cause your loved one to become depressed, dejected, angry or frustrated.
- Be supportive but do encourage your loved one to be active and independent, as much as possible, to help him or her regain a sense of self-reliance and confidence.
- Take care of yourself. Be aware of your own needs and make sure you are sleeping enough, eating properly, and taking some time off for yourself. There’s not much you can do if you are drained, irritable or unwell.
- Ask help from other family members, relatives and friends if you need it. More often than not, they would be more than happy to be of help.
If you’re a husband dealing with breast cancer, read this informative article on healthcentral.com, in which a writer shares his insights into coping and living for the first time with his wife who had breast cancer, as well as tips on the do’s and don’ts .
There are also many other resources available outside the circle of family and friends which can be helping and healing, including:
Social workers are just one part of the care-giving team who can offer treatment in a compassionate setting. They also help address any concerns about the diagnosis, treatment or other personal questions related to the illness. Social workers are also trained and qualified to provide education, counselling regarding lifestyle changes as well as information on local community or support groups.
At times, a one-on-one counseling may be the best option to help a cancer survivor to deal with certain problems, such as depression, anger, guilt or frustration. A private session may help a survivor feel more secure and more likely to share and expressive his or her feelings. Counselling sessions can also be helpful to gather the survivor and his or her family members together to discuss issues of concern as well as effective coping strategies.
Support groups are a useful resource for breast cancer survivors as they can meet and share with other survivors their personal experience in battling the disease. It is a safe and empathetic environment in which a survivor can learn coping techniques from those who have been through similar experiences.
For more information on support groups in Malaysia, click here .