Challenges of Taking Care of a Cancer Family Member

Being diagnosed with cancer can be as overwhelming for you and everyone around you leading that to possibly changing your relationships in unexpected ways.  Talking about your diagnosis with partners, children, and friends and family and expressing your needs to those close to you can help avoid misunderstandings that stress your relationships.

 1. Roles. Cancer often changes roles, which may be a challenging adjustment.

2. Responsibilities. If cancer and its treatment leave your loved one feeling exhausted or unable to perform the usual tasks, those responsibilities may fall on other family member’s shoulders. If he/she must stop working, the partner may need to go back to work or work extra hours while in many cases taking on caregiving responsibilities.

Challenges of Taking Care of a Cancer Family Member

These added responsibilities may become overwhelming and lead to feelings of frustration and resentment. Meanwhile, the patient may feel guilty for burdening the partner and feel saddened and frustrated by their limitations. Talking openly about limitations and brainstorming possible solutions will help both feel more comfortable with changes in responsibilities.

3. Needs. Because physical and emotional needs change frequently as couples cope with cancer, it is important for both partners and family members to communicate their needs.

Asking for help with basic activities of daily life, such as getting dressed or washing the hair, may be difficult. However, the partner may not know that he/she needs help or may not want to offend by offering it. As a result, it is important to talk openly and clearly express the needs to avoid the frustration and anger that could result from misinterpreting the spouse’s behavior.

4. Good communication. It is especially important in relationships between people with cancer and those who care about them. Talking about feelings and personal needs with honesty, sincerity, and openness greatly reduce the stress that cancer places on relationships. If they are having a hard time talking with people, or if others don’t seem to want to communicate with, they should consider asking for help by joining a support group or talking with a counselor or social worker.

Now, I am not saying that all throughout, having a family member with cancer is very difficult. Well, it really is, but let us not make this the hindrance for us to be depressed, saddened or give up on our loved one. We must fight!