Although medical expertise is a key part of your cancer treatment a cancer support team at home with your family and friends can be invaluable. Having good family support at home can be crucial.
"A cancer diagnosis adds an enormous amount ofstress to a person's life" says Harold J. Burstein, MD, staff oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "But people who have strong social supports - good family and friends - tend to cope much better."
Here are some tips from the experts on how to get cancer support from family and friends:
- Build a team- Don't lean too much on one person. When asking for cancer support, play to the strengths of individual family members. Probably, your closest family members - spouse, parents, children, are likely to be by your side. But they might not always be the most helpful cancer support - they'r going to be frightened and upset just like you. For some types of support, friends - further removed - may be more helpful.
- Bring a Partner or Family Member to Appointments- In addition to emotional support, a family member might remember details or questions that you forgot. "It's great to have a second set of ears during these meetings", says Dr. Jan C. Buckner, Chair of Oncology at the Mayo Clinic.
- Figure What You Need and Ask For It - A lot of people may want to help but aren't sure what to do. Decide what you need and don't be afraid to ask.
- Talk to Your Children- Parents want to protect their children and many don't want to tell their kids about a cancer diagnosis" says Terri Ades,MS.APRN-BC, Director of Cancer Information at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, "but that's the worst thing you can do. Your kids are going to find out anyway, and it's better if you control how they find out about it". Adjust the information depending on the age of the child. "Reassure them that their needs won't be neglected. Let them know its normal to be worried."
- Appoint a Surrogate - No one wants to think about it, but Dr Buckner urges patients to appoint a legal surrogate who can make decisions about their health care when they are unable. "Choose some one is is knowledgeable and reliable. It's like have insurance or a will", says Buckner
Don't be afraid to Ask For Help - You may feel awkward or not want to impose, but YOU need help RIGHT NOW. You can't get through treatment alone.
It's important to understand to role of caregiver and helps to connect with other caregivers for advice and support. There are local support group options throughout the country.
So many questions to answer, feelings to understand, fears to assuage. Sometimes it helps
to be with other children who are going through the same experience. Check out these national camps.
“You bond on a level that is profound. You’ve shared your grief, your fear, your hopes, the problems…You solve your own particular situations by hearing the wisdom of your brothers, by learning the COPE Model, and that has made all the difference” – Ron Clark, Husband and caregiver