Think Beyond Cancer

People with cancer often feel anxious about the loss of control that accompanies their diagnosis. Families can be most supportive by giving back that control and allowing the person to make choices for herself.

Sometimes people respond to a cancer diagnosis with positive motives to take good care of themselves. This can include turning to close relationships for comfort and support, and seeking out the best possible medical care. Other times, they may respond with unhappy motives such as becoming isolated, eating a lot of junk food, or blaming themselves for their disease. It's most helpful for you to watch for and respond to the patient's positive motives.

While it's important for a person with cancer to keep his routine, know that a cancer diagnosis may disrupt family roles: kids might have to take on more household responsibilities, or a father may have to take on additional childcare duties. In addition to acknowledging the change and mourning the loss, you may find it helpful to identify some practical solutions. For example, it might make sense to relax housekeeping standards or prepare simpler meals. You may also want to consider enlisting outside help from friends and acquaintances.

Families can be more effective caregivers if they take good care of themselves. Be sure to get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, and take part in activities that you enjoy. It's also important to remember that emotional support is just as important for you as it is for your loved one.

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