FAMILY DISTRESS - Having a member of the family diagnosed with cancer creates tremendous challenges. Some families tend to pull together; some families tend to blow apart. A goal of survivorship is to have each family member accept the new reality that a loved one is seriously ill and to help each family member understand what he or she can do to make the best of a difficult situation.
ROLES AND RELATIONSHIPS - In most cases, the time and energy needed by cancer patients to address the physical demands of their treatment results in major changes in their ability to function in the ways they once did. A goal of survivorship is to accept that priorities must shift and that others must "step up to the plate" to help keep things moving in the right direction.
ISOLATION - Having cancer sets patients apart from people without cancer. One of our greatest needs is to have contact with others, and at this time - perhaps more than any other - people need people. A goal of survivorship is to find and increase the support of others who truly understand their situation, particularly through a program like the Feist-Weiller cancer patient support groups.
AFFECTION - At a time when loved ones’ support and affection is needed the most, many cancer patients feel physically and emotionally drained. Other people may even believe that physical closeness will in some way put them at risk. A goal of survivorship is to provide accurate information to dispel myths and to highlight the importance of feeling wanted and loved during a time of great turmoil.
APPEARANCE/SEXUAL FUNCTION - Many cancer patients are anxious not only about whether their treatments will be successful but also how their bodies may be changed as a result of chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. It is quite common for patients to be concerned that having cancer may affect their appearance and attractiveness or change their ability to perform or to enjoy their intimate life. A goal of survivorship is to prepare for probable changes and to find resources that can help address some of these concerns.
FINANCES – Most people struggle with the financial aftershocks of a cancer diagnosis, frequently squeezed between the loss of income and the staggering cost of medical bills. A goal of survivorship is to look at options to soften the financial blow and to make some decisions about how this can be managed.
WORK - Cancer patients have to concentrate on their treatments. Those who can continue to work - do; others may be physically or emotionally unable to do so. Since most people derive a sense of self-worth from the work that they do, particularly if they provide for others, this can be a major stress in their lives. A goal of survivorship is to understand that attending to the business at hand, i.e. getting well and regaining their health, is the best contribution they can make at this time.
ENJOYMENT/MEANING – Enjoyment and appreciation of life both by cancer patients and their family members is crucial at times when things look tough. A goal of survivorship is to strengthen bonds with family and friends, to seek activities that provide distraction from serious issues, and to reinforce the idea that, even in the face of a cancer diagnosis, one’s life can still be meaningful and joyful.
With Thanks to the City Of Hope, California