Julie Holt, Cancer Information Nurse, Cancer Society Wellington
I’ve been thinking today what a tough time partners, family, friends of a person with cancer have – the huge emotional burden, the financial juggling, the new roles to take on, dealing with the unpredictability of cancer – ‘When we will get that appointment, and how will we get there’? ‘When can we fit in an appointment with the kids’ teachers to talk about what’s happening to their Dad’? ‘What will I cook today that they might actually feel like eating’? ‘How can I cope with these up and down emotions?’. Cancer doesn’t fit easily into an already busy schedule. It can upend anyone’s life and disrupt normal ‘getting on’ in the most powerful ways.
Talking it through, emailing, blogging…these are all ways of telling your story. Sharing your story really helps many people carry on. In return, so many people say how much better they feel after this. Our nurses and counsellors at the Cancer Society hear these stories every day. While there are no shortcuts to what you’re going through, we have practical tips to sustain you in carrying on with this turmoil in the best way you can. Sometimes, just knowing that what you’re feeling is normal can really help. Reading something that echoes that, plus gives some handy tips can also be useful – we have a wealth of information to point you to.
Self-care for supporters is vital. Focus on the basics – eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. Add in a good dose of distraction – coffee with a friend, a film or book (even better if it’s funny – humour is powerful medicine). Going to work – financially essential for many, can be a good way to help you feel more in control. If you can, talk to your boss about what’s going on for you. Then together you can come up with a plan that allows you to keep working while caring for your loved one.
These are all good strategies to give you some ‘normal’ space and keep you connected.
For more information check out our Cancer Society booklet ‘Supporting someone who has cancer’ – you can read this online:
https://wellington.cancernz.org.nz/mi/cancer-information/living-with-cancer/supporting-someone-with-cancer-2/ or get a free copy by contacting us. You can phone the cancer information nurses on 0800 CANCER (226 237) or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
See also our CanTalk magazine which has several articles for supporters https://wellington.cancernz.org.nz/how-we-can-help/looking-for-answers/cantalk-our-magazine/