May 23, 2016
A diagnosis of cancer changes a family forever. Figuring out what’s for dinner or what your plans are for the weekend is suddenly less important. Family and personal values are questioned and priorities are tested and changed.
Unsettled feelings and arguments may resurface during a family’s struggle with cancer. Often a family must sort out and revisit old, unresolved feelings before they can start to battle cancer together, as a family unit.
Cancer can cause role changes in the family, too. The head of the household may now be more dependent on other family members. Others may need to work outside the home or work different hours. When family members take on new roles, the way they interact within the family can change. New responsibilities may overwhelm some family members.
Parents might look to their children for support. If the children are old enough, they may be asked to take on more responsibilities within the household. These requests often come when children themselves need support. Children might start acting younger and less mature in response to the stress on the family. Teens, who are often rebelling and spending more time with friends, may instead cling to their families for support.
As a friend or family member helping to take care of the patient, you also have needs. Taking care of yourself will allow you to care for others. When your needs are met, the patient will also benefit. Overdoing is different from doing. Know your limits and rest when you need to. This rule applies to both caregivers and patients.