Reaching Out

 

 

What Am I Allowed To Ask?

 

Any cancer sufferer will tell you that it is not uncommon for relationships with friends and family to change after being diagnosed. The most important thing to remember is that your diagnosis affects those around you as well. It is also not uncommon for people close to you to go through the same emotions you will during this time and this often affects the dynamics of relationships.

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A wise teacher in graduate school was fond of telling us burgeoning therapists,  “It’s not what you say to patients that’s important, it’s what you say next.” — Mindy Greenstein Ph.D.

Friends and family may experience a wave of different emotions, including sadness, fear, anxiety and more. These emotions play an intricate part in the dynamics of relationships and often result in family and friends masking these emotions which often results in strained the relationship. Not to mention that most often conversations are strained or even fleeting as people are not sure what topics to avoid or address.

 

The fear of adding more strain on already fragile relationships, the cancer sufferer tend to withdraw their own emotions from the equation in order to try to alleviate the stress on those around them. This means that they often overlook their own mental health and pretend that everything is fine in order to spare friends and family any further stress and pain.

 

Have You Spoken To A Stanger?

 The impact of hearing the possibility of cancer was crippling, even at first. But once it was confirmed, in a matter of days my body began to fall apart as I lost the mental capacity to will myself to keep moving. — Maia Delmoor, MS, LPC, CAADC

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“Before my diagnosis, I didn’t know anything about cancer. Now, I have met so many people with so many different kinds of cancer experiences—and I really go back to the idea that no one should ever have to go through cancer alone.” – Lloyd K., Cancer Experience Registry Participant

Holding back your emotions, whether you are the sufferer or a loved one will only be more detrimental to your mental health. There are a number of online communities and forums moderated by medical professionals and patients where one can address your fears, ask questions, and seek advice.

 

‘Stranger Chat’ will allow you to freely and without prejudice to ask questions, voice your fears and seek advice and guidance on how to deal with the conundrum of emotions you are experiencing.

 

Cancer Is Cancer

 

There are so many different types of cancers, some you might recognize by name, and others you might not. The point is that cancer is cancer. Your diagnosis is no less scary or important as the next cancer patient. Your emotions and how you feel are no less important. You fears are no less real and you are allowed to feel these emotions.

 

 According to the American Psychological Association, researchers have estimated that anywhere from 20 to 60 percent of cancer patients have symptoms of depression. Drastic changes in lifestyle and the fear and anxiety that accompany a chronic, sometimes fatal, disease can impact the emotional well being of the sturdiest of patients. — Jane Framingham, Ph.D.

Reach Out

 

There is a number of ways you can reach out and include family and friends in your diagnosis without these relationships being strained or stressful. Here are a few suggestions that might help in relieving some of the strain.

 

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  • It can be stressful to have to repeat medical information or answer questions about treatment or progress. It helps to have one member of the family that you can trust to communicate this information with other friends and family. It helps to alleviate the emotions that these conversations can bring.
  • Reach out to family and friends. Take the lead and give them guidance during conversations. If you feel comfortable discussing your diagnosis, bring up the subject.
  • Do not pretend. If you are feeling down, say so, if you need help, ask for it. You are allowed to feel emotional and by asking and accepting help when offered, you are giving people a chance to deal with the emotions they could be feeling with regard to your diagnosis. Also do not be afraid to speak out, if someone is being overbearing or if you need space, say so.
  • Try maintaining social relationships, if you are feeling up to, participate in family gatherings. Do not close yourself off and it will also allow you to maintain some sense of normality. Share with people what you can and cannot deal with, do not be afraid to be honest.

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