Why Getting Help Is Important
Accepting help from others isn’t always easy. When tough things happen, many people tend to
pull away. They think, “We can handle this on our own.” But things can get harder as the patient
goes through treatment. You may need to change your schedule and take on new tasks. As a
result, many caregivers have said, “There’s just too much on my plate.”
Remember that getting help for yourself can also help your loved one because:
■ You may stay healthier.
■ Your loved one may feel less guilty about all the things that you’re doing.
■ Some of your helpers may offer time and skills that you don’t have.
How Can Others Help You?
Would you find it helpful if someone made dinner for you or ran some of your errands? If so, you
may benefit from having people help with tasks you don t have time to do.
People want to help, but many don’t know what you need or how to offer it. It’s okay for you to
take the first step. Ask for what you need and for the things that would be most helpful to you.
For example, you may want someone to:
■ Help with household chores, such as
cooking, cleaning, shopping, yard work,
and childcare or eldercare
■ Talk with you and listen to your feelings
■ Drive your loved one to appointments
■ Pick up a child from school or activities
■ Set up a website where people can find out
what support you need or receive updates
on your loved one
■ Look up information that you need
■ Be the contact person and help keep others
updated on your loved one’s situation7
Who Can Help?
Think about people who can help you with tasks. Think of all the people and groups you know,
including family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Members of your faith community, civic
groups, and associations may also be able to help. The hospital or cancer center may also be able
to tell you about services they offer, or have a list of agencies to call.
Finding Respite Help
Respite (RES-pit) helpers spend time with your loved one. They can be paid or may volunteer
their time. Many caregivers say they wish they had gotten respite help sooner. It can leave you
free to rest, see friends, run errands, or do whatever you’d like to do. Respite caregivers can
also help with physical demands, such as lifting the patient into a bed or a chair. If this service
appeals to you, you may want to:
■ Talk with your loved one about having someone
come into your home to help out from time
■ Get referrals from friends, health care professionals,
or your local agency on aging.
■ Ask respite helpers what types of tasks they do.
You can get respite help from family and friends, but
also government agencies or nonprofit groups. Whatever
you do, remember that it isn’t a failure on your part as a
caregiver if you need some help and time to yourself.
“We’ve gotten lots of
support, and some of it
comes from people we
expected it from. But a
lot has come from those
we don’t know very well.
And others we do know
well have stayed away.
You just never know
with people.” —Jessie Be Prepared for Some People to Say No
Sometimes people may not be able to help. This may
hurt your feelings or make you angry. It may be especially hard coming from people that you
expected help from. You might wonder why someone wouldn’t offer to help you. Some common
■ Some people may be coping with their own problems, or a may not have the time.
■ They are afraid of cancer or may have already had a bad experience with cancer. They don’t
want to get involved and feel pain all over again.
■ Some people believe it’s best to keep a distance when people are struggling.
■ Sometimes people don’t realize how hard things really are for you. Or they don’t understand
that you need help unless you ask them for it directly.
■ Some people feel awkward because they don’t know how to show they care.
If someone isn’t giving you the help you need, you may want to talk to them and explain your
needs. Or you can just let it go. But if the relationship is important, you may want to tell the
person how you feel. This can help prevent resentment or stress from building up. These feeling
Last Updated on Friday, 07 November 2014 20:33
The emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis
Delores, cancer survivor: “There’s a fear that goes through you when you are told you have cancer. It’s so hard in the beginning to think about anything but your diagnosis. It’s the first thing you think about every morning. I want people diagnosed with cancer to know it does get better. Talking about your cancer helps you deal with all of the new emotions you are feeling. Remember, it’s normal to get upset.”
A cancer diagnosis affects not only you, but also your family and friends. You may feel scared, uncertain, or angry about the unwanted changes cancer will bring to your life and theirs. You may feel numb or confused. You may have trouble listening to, understanding, or remembering what people tell you during this time. This is especially true when your doctor first tells you that you have cancer. It’s not uncommon for people to shut down mentally once they hear the word “cancer.”
There’s nothing fair about cancer and no one deserves it. A cancer diagnosis is hard to take and having cancer is not easy. When you find out you have cancer, your personal beliefs and experiences help you figure out what it means to you and how you will handle it. As you face your own mortality and cope with the many demands of cancer, you may look more closely at your religious beliefs, your personal and family values, and what’s most important in your life. Accepting the diagnosis and figuring out what cancer will mean in your life is challenging.
After you are diagnosed with cancer, you may feel shock, disbelief, fear, anxiety, guilt, sadness, grief, depression, anger, and more. Each person may have some or all of these feelings, and each will handle them in a different way.
Your first emotion might be shock – no one is ever ready to hear that they have cancer. It’s normal for people with cancer to wonder why it happened to them or to think life has treated them unfairly. You may not even believe the diagnosis, especially if you don’t feel sick.
You might feel afraid. Some people fear cancer itself, while others may be afraid of cancer treatments and wonder how they’ll get through them. The fear of pain and suffering is one of the greatest fears people with cancer and their loved ones have.
You might feel guilty. You may ask yourself if you could have noticed your symptoms earlier, or wonder what you did that may have caused the cancer. You may wonder if you were exposed to something at home or work that led to cancer. Or you may worry that other members of your family will get cancer, too. At this time we do not know what causes most cancers. But a few are known to be hereditary (passed from a parent to a child). This means if one family member develops it, others in the family may have a higher risk of developing it. This can cause even more concerns for the person newly diagnosed with cancer.
You might feel hopeless or sad if you see cancer as a roadblock to a life full of health and happiness. It’s hard to feel positive and upbeat, especially if the future is uncertain. Just thinking about treatment and the time it will take out of your life can seem like too much to handle. Feelings of sadness or uncertainty may be made worse by your past experiences with cancer.
You might have a sense of loss linked to your cancer diagnosis and treatment. Cancer can change your sense of self, that is, how you think of your body, yourself, and your future. Grief is a normal response as you give up your old ideas of yourself and begin to develop ways to cope with the new, unwanted changes in your life. It might take time for you to become aware of these losses and changes. It can help to share your grief with someone close to you. If there’s no one near you that you want to confide in, you might want to see a mental health professional. Your feelings need care too, just like your physical body needs care.
You might feel angry. While some people may not outwardly express their anger and frustration, others may direct their anger toward family members, friends, or health care professionals. This is usually not done on purpose. If you’re only trying to vent your feelings, let people know that you are not angry with them and it’s not their fault. Also let them know that you don’t expect them to solve your problems – you just need them to listen.
Last Medical Review: 06/26/2014
Last Revised: 06/26/2014
Last Updated on Friday, 07 November 2014 20:36
When Your Child Has Cancer
Written by Administrator
Friday, 08 August 2008 23:32
When Your Child Has Cancer
The diagnosis of cancer in a child or teenager can be a devastating blow to parents and other family members who love the child. Cancer creates an instant crisis in the family. Here we provide information to help parents of children with cancer know what to expect. Here we offer suggestions on topics such as coping with the diagnosis, dealing with financial and insurance issues, and nutrition for children with cancer.
Cancer In Children
From our Learn About Cancer section, this guide provides some general information about childhood cancers, including the most common types and how they differ from cancers in adults. (For more detailed information on specific types of childhood cancers, see the detailed guides in the Learn About Cancer section.
Children Diagnosed With Cancer: Dealing With Diagnosis
Here we offer information to help parents and loved ones of a child with cancer know about and cope with some of the problems that come up just after the child is diagnosed. We discuss common emotional responses to the cancer in both parents and children and share some ideas for coping.
Children Diagnosed with Cancer: Understanding the Healthcare System
When a young person is diagnosed and treated for cancer, both the patient and the family enter the strange, complex, and sometimes frightening world of modern medicine. Here we provide tips to help patients and families begin to understand and cope with the health care system.
Children Diagnosed With Cancer: Financial and Insurance Issues
If your child has been diagnosed with cancer, the last thing you want to think about is money. But families are usually forced to think about this issue sooner rather than later. Here we'll answer some of the most common questions about insurance and financial concerns.
Children Diagnosed With Cancer: Returning to School
It is important that children return to school as soon as possible after they're diagnosed with cancer. Children often see school as more than just a place for learning; it's also a place for fun and friendship. Here we offer tips to help make your child's return to school a smooth one.
Children Diagnosed With Cancer: Late Effects of Cancer Treatment
With the advances in treatment in recent decades, many childhood cancers are now cured. But the intense therapies often needed to treat these cancers can also cause health problems that may not show up until months or years after treatment. Learn about these possible late health effects and what you and your child's doctors can do to look out for them.
Pediatric Cancer Center Information
Most children and teens with cancer in the United States are treated at a center that is a member of the Children's Oncology Group (COG). COG joined with the National Childhood Cancer Foundation to form CureSearch, an extensive guide to pediatric cancer resources. To learn more about pediatric cancers and their treatment, to get listings of ongoing clinical trials, and to search for COG-affiliated institutions by state, visit the CureSearch Web site.
Nutrition for Children With Cancer
Nutrition is an important part of the health of all children, but it is especially important for children getting cancer treatment. This guide can help you learn about your child's nutritional needs and how cancer and its treatment may affect them. We also offer suggestions and recipes to help you ensure your child is getting the nutrition he or she needs.
When Your Child's Treatment Ends: A Guide for Families
Here we will talk about some of the challenges, fears, and stresses family members may face as they make the transition from active treatment to being off treatment.
Resources for Parents who Have Lost a Child to Cancer
Here you can find lists of books, Web sites, and organizations that provide information and support for adults who are dealing with the death of a child. There are also resources for helping other children in the family who have lost a brother or sister.