The term ‘Cancer’ strikes an emotional reaction from everyone. Statistics show that within a lifetime one in three people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer. This means that everyone has experienced or will experience a personal connection with a relative or friend that has been treated for cancer, living with cancer or sadly may have died from cancer.
It is important to realise that not all forms of cancer will result in an early death, many cancers are avoidable; treatable or containable. However, there are also many aggressive forms of cancer for which there are equally aggressive treatments. Research into the causes of cancer and into more effective treatments to eradicate it, is an ongoing and relentless process.
The effect that cancer can have on a person, their family and friends will vary depending on many factors. The general physical and mental health of the patient is paramount. No formula can be applied to test out patient resilience or reaction to treatments.
Understandably it is paramount that appropriate care and empathy is afforded during all stages.
The message is that no one should have to face cancer alone and that everyone involved needs support and care, which is where Advinia can help.
Caring for a loved one with Cancer
For the person who is diagnosed with cancer, there is the worry about their own health and mortality. It can be just as difficult for them to talk about their illness as it is for family, loved ones or friends to engage in conversations. No matter how close the relationship, there is still the worry of saying the ‘right thing’ and not appearing terse or uncaring.
It can be difficult to cope with the uncertainty of the illness and the treatments. This can result in fluctuating emotions that bounce between good days and days that are not so good. Mood swings from anger to sadness to fear can be regularly experienced, especially during cancer treatments.
It is important that the person who has cancer is treated as normally as possible. They should be included in family and social events. Make them feel valued and that they are still accepted as part of a group If they feel that they are not up to taking part in a planned activity they will let you know, let it be their decision.
Do not take it as a personal affront if they do not want to talk about their illness with you; this is not because they do not want to confide in you, they would probably like the distraction of talking about everyday things. However, if they want to talk about their illness then don’t be afraid to be part of the conversation.
If they confide in you, be a good listener. Being a good listener does not mean that you have to offer a response, just listen. Even if you disagree with some of their decisions about their choice of treatment, then you must respect their choices.
It can be difficult as a patient to sometimes accept help, and likewise, it is the same for family friends and loved ones to accept help.
Friends and family will often help by running errands; preparing meals doing household chores and arranging transport for medical appointments and therapies. Accepting their help gives them a sense that they are contributing to your recovery, but at times it is important that accept help that is offered to them so that they continue to remain strong to support you.
Without support carers can soon have ‘caregiver burnout’. Family and friends may benefit from a support group where they can speak openly with others about what they are going through and develop appropriate coping mechanisms. It is paramount that they realise their own importance in your treatment and recovery.
Just like their loved one that has cancer, family and friends do not always want to talk about cancer. They can also have ‘bad’ days when they just need a break. It is important they also have a secure support network that they can call on to provide appropriate care in their absence no matter how brief.
Types of Cancer care
Treatment for cancer usually takes place as an outpatient or in a day hospital. Patients who have a strong emotional support network are proven to be better able to cope with their treatment and with any side effects. Their network may come from family and friends, or it may come through a care agency or a combination.
Home or Domiciliary care
Domiciliary care will support you by helping with personal care or with household care or both. Your carer will make sure that you have your medications, and help you find out information about additional therapies or support groups that you may like to attend. If you want they can also accompany you to attend your medical appointments.
Read more about Domiciliary or Home Care provided by Advinia by visiting our Home Care guide.
Live in Care
Live-in care may be an option especially if the person that is undergoing treatment lives on their own or their partner has health problems. A live-in carer will make sure that your daily routine remains unchanged and that you do not always have to rely on friends for transport to medical and treatment appointments.
They will also make sure that you choose your own meals and eat what you feel you can, given any treatment side effects such as nausea. They will also ensure that you have pain relief when you need it. They can encourage friends and relatives to visit for short periods depending on how you feel at that time.
Other tasks can include housework, laundry and help in looking after pets as well as liaising with your GP and Oncologist.
Read more about Live in Care provided by Advinia by visiting our Live in Care guide.
Everyone needs a break some time, and people with cancer and his or her family and friends are no exception. The situation may arise where the primary carer may need to attend a work conference or the person being cared for may not feel well enough to travel and join in a family celebration.
In these circumstances, it may be an idea to access respite care so that the client feels that they are not preventing their close family from attending a function and likewise family do not feel that they are abandoning their loved one.
Respite care may be for a day or a few days and can take place in the familiar surroundings of home. The family are encouraged to check in with the carer (and this could be by text or a phone call) if they are worried.
Read more about Respite Care provided by Advinia by visiting our Respite Care guide.
Palliative Care can provide support not just for the client but also for their family and loved ones to enable them to manage changes and develop coping strategies. By supporting the family, the client is also supported.
People who can benefit the most from Palliative care are people who have been diagnosed with a serious illness or complex health problems such as dementia, heart failure, and cancer. Palliative care can be available in any care setting but ideally in the client’s own home.
Palliative care can be tailored to the values, beliefs, culture, personal goals, and preferences of the client. Families and loved ones can also feel less stressed, more supported and additionally more informed than if their relative was being cared for in a care home or hospital.
Read more about Palliative care and what Advinia can do to support you by visiting our Palliative Care guide.