When a doctor says “cancer,” family members find themselves at a loss for how to best support their loved one while grappling with their own fears and anxiety. Some family members may not feel comfortable discussing their feelings; others may avoid the situation entirely because they don’t know how to act or feel.
Regular conversations are important to help families deal with the changes that cancer is causing within the family dynamic. Discuss upcoming challenges and how each family member can best contribute.
Research has shown that being a family member or caregiver of a loved one diagnosed with cancer can be even more stressful than having the disease. People tend to feel guilty for thinking about themselves when their loved one is sick. However, it is normal to feel grief over how a loved one’s disease is affecting you and even angry of how this is disrupting your life.
If you’re the family member or caregiver of a cancer patient, be sure to take time for yourself. Though it’s important to be there to support your loved one, it’s just as important to support your own mental health. Take walks or find your own way to unwind from stressful days.
Also, make sure you’re not the only one who has to bear the burden of taking care of someone with cancer. Taking all responsibility onto yourself may even cause your sick loved one to feel guilty for their disease if they see it take a toll on you. A group of people help alleviate some of the pressure and better support your loved one throughout the process.