People have different ways of coping with a stressful situation. Being given a cancer diagnosis is probably towards the top of the stress chart. If you or a loved one are experiencing this traumatic event, you may want to learn what you can do in order to help them emotionally and mentally before they can start their treatment on the road back to health.
Cancer is Common
Sadly, cancer is a dreadfully common illness in our modern life. It is estimated that about half of men and a third of women in the USA will develop cancer in their lifetime. It can attack any organ and any body part and it can be very deadly if not treated properly. Women are most likely to face breast cancer according to studies at https://www.odonate.com/breast-cancer. So, how do we deal with these odds and a potential diagnosis?
The first reaction for many people is anger. It may be vented on the oncologist giving the news or the immediate family, but it is important that you remember that this anger outburst is not the reflection of the person’s inner state. They are just unable to process the information properly. Give them some time to think and do not take these outbursts personally. If the state persists, consider consulting an anger therapist.
The other end of the spectrum is total apathy. Once a person is given the diagnosis, they can become completely disinterested with their life, as if it is already finished and there is nothing that can be done about it. They can totally lose interest in everything including work, hobbies, and friends and family.
Fortunately, this is typically only temporary. It is important not to rush them through this phase, because their defensive mechanism can kick in, dragging them deeper into the stupor and apathy.
Finding out what caused cancer can be useful because they can learn to avoid it in the future. However, obsessing over every decision they have ever made and wondering if that was the trigger is unhealthy and can lead to serious problems, such as loss of appetite, depression or social isolation. As a loved one, you are a vital part of the effort to avoid this scenario.
During this uncertain period, people have lots of questions, especially about cancer and how to pay for the treatment. This is a normal and adult way to approach the problem. However, if these questions become a source of constant worry and anxiety, it may become an additional problem rather than a solution. This fear can paralyze them in their normal lives. If you are able to, you need to lead them out of this state of deer-in-the-headlights and get them back on the track of solving their problems, no matter how serious they are.
Overall, communication is the most important part of your role as emotional and moral supporter. Whatever their reaction is to the diagnosis, you should try to avoid negativity and overly emotional outburst. Make sure that you understand that this illness changes a lot of things in their, and your, lives. Give them enough time to adapt to the new reality, but make sure that you always keep them focused on the goal – full recovery from cancer. If you cannot do it on your own, suggest seeking professional help.