February 4th is World Cancer Day ( http://www.worldcancerday.org/ ), a worldwide event to raise awareness and education about cancer and to encourage governments, health professionals and individuals to take action in the prevention and management of the disease. The themes for the day are based around a series of action statements beginning We Can/I Can, such as “We can create healthy workplaces” or “We can make healthy lifestyle choices”.
One which seems very important to those of us in the cancer support services is the statement “I can ask for support”
Support is important both for the patients, carers, partners and family, or any others affected by the diagnosis and treatment. Receiving good support helps people’s ability to cope with the social and emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.
The kind of support needed will vary for different people and situations, and be found in a variety of different ways. Some may need practical support- driving, errands, meals, picking up kids, or vacuuming- while others may need help dealing with emotions and distress. This can come from colleagues, friends, family members, healthcare professionals and counsellors as well as from support groups.
Support groups help to link with others who have or are going through similar experiences and provide a caring and safe environment to talk about feelings and emotions.
Care givers and partners also benefit from receiving support in their difficult and often unexpected new role. The changes and challenges in their lives can be distressing, even if they are strongly committed to caring for their sick loved one.
Many people find it hard asking for help. We all grew up aspiring to be independent and as New Zealanders (especially men) we love to be seen as chilled, tough and coping. A cancer journey can be one of the toughest life experiences and most people find it easier to negotiate with some help. Many people comment to us that getting support from the Cancer Society has been tremendously beneficial and that they had wished they had come to us sooner! I know that it can be hard and scary walking through that door the first time, but please come in… we are very friendly! Of course, you are also welcome to phone us on 0800 226237 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We provide support to all people affected by all cancers in a wide variety of ways- find out more on our website http://cancersoc.org.nz/ , pop in or give us a call or email.
Anna, Cancer Information Nurse