• Supporting a marathon instead of a sprint.

    Asked by nancyjac on Saturday, November 3, 2012

    Supporting a marathon instead of a sprint.

    In the year or so that I have been following this site, there have been a lot of recurring themes. Even though all of us have our unique journey, there are also a lot of general similarities. One that has come up very frequently is support/caregiving for cancer patients....how? how much? how long? etc.

    It think it is pretty much human nature that whenever something is radically new and significant, whether that is a cancer diagnosis, having a baby, launching a business, getting that first place of your own to live, etc., that those around you rally around you with lots of "advice", offers to help, etc. This is a good thing to a point, but it can be overwhelming when you are the newly diagnosed cancer patient. I think every newly diagnosed cancer patient feels overwhelmed and out of control already. Well meaning friends and family members needs to understand that too much asking and doing is adding to the sense of being overwhelmed and out of control.

    (to be continued)

    2 Answers from the Community

    • nancyjac's Avatar

      The newly diagnosed patients has a lot of stuff to deal with. Providing peripheral help is great, but please to badger the patient repeatedly asking how you can help. Then it becomes just one more thing he/she has to deal with. Another key point is that the cancer patient needs support, but not someone forcibly trying to take over. There is already so much that you can't control when you have cancer. Well meaning friends and family who try to do more for the patient than they need to have done, are taking away what little control the patient has left.

      Another thing that tends to be a common occurrence is that friends and family go overboard trying to do everything for the patient in the beginning and end up getting burned out. The result is that after hovering over the patient's every move for a while, they start to draw back because they have their own lives, family, responsibilities, etc. to get back to. After the initial coddling, this often makes the patient feel abandoned when their supporters draw back.

      So what I would recommend to friends and families of cancer patients is to support the patient to the extent that think they will be able to continue that support indefinitely. And don't try to do more than you can sustain or more than the patient needs. It is equally important for the patient to feel supported and to know the limits of your support, as well as not having to deal with somebody trying to take control away from them.

      If anybody has additional thoughts and advice based on their experiences, please post them here. I think your input would be helpful to many.

      almost 8 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar

      When I had heard of a number of other women in our community diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I posted a list of suggestions for family and friends on my wall and on Facebook. -------

      * The darkest time is between that devastating phone call and the visit with her surgeon. She will be in denial with no sleep and lots of tears. She may not want to talk about it at this time but if she does, allow her to verbalize, nurture a positive attitude in her and give her lots of hope with survival stories. The survival stories are the key!

      * After surgery, confirm your love and support with prayers, cards and maybe some pretty flowers. A visit to help with a household chore would be appreciated by her and would give her caregiver a much needed break.

      *A pot of homemade soup, a casserole or a batch of brownies is a true blessing as she is unable to cook and the caregiver gets very tired. People have substituted Restaurant Gift Cards for this which is also very nice because it gives her an "outing".

      *During Chemotherapy & Radiation Sessions, offer to drive or to accompany them. It not only symbolizes your support but it provides company for both her and her caregiver during those long tedious hours.

      *Be patient with all her moods and feelings. Even though you may be upset at the time of her diagnosis, you soon return to your daily routine while she continues to deal with the pain, side effects and emotional trauma of this evil enemy day after day -- and month after month.

      *Quite often, a family member or friend feels awkward in these situations. Do not let this hold you back -- she needs you -- she needs to know that you care -- she needs that hug. It is the prayers, love and support that keeps her strong and positive in her battle. So often, you will hear "the ones that I least expected were the ones that were there" -- I often wonder if there is some disappointment behind this statement -- the point is to be there for her and you will be blessed in so many ways.

      almost 8 years ago

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