Challenges of Taking Care of a Cancer Family Member

A cancer diagnosis can be as overwhelming for your family members and friends as it is for you, possibly changing your relationships in unexpected ways.  Talking about your diagnosis with partners, children, and friends and family and expressing your needs to those close to you can help avoid misunderstandings that stress your relationships.

As any person with cancer knows, a cancer diagnosis affects family members and friends. Sometimes, the complex feelings and lifestyle changes caused by cancer and its treatment become as overwhelming for others in your life as they are for you. Understanding the potential changes in the way you relate to specific family members and friends may help you take steps to foster healthy, mutually supportive relationships during this challenging time.


  1. Roles. Cancer often changes roles, which may be a challenging adjustment. A person who has always been in charge or served as the caregiver may have trouble accepting a more dependent role, while a person who has not served in those roles may struggle to take charge and provide care.


  1. Responsibilities. If cancer and its treatment leaves your loved one feeling exhausted or unable to perform the usual tasks, those responsibilities may fall on other family member’s shoulders. If he/she must stop working, the partner may need to go back to work or work extra hours while, in many cases taking on caregiving responsibilities. These added responsibilities may become overwhelming and lead to feelings of frustration and resentment. Meanwhile, the patient may feel guilty for burdening the partner and feel saddened and frustrated by their limitations. Talking openly about limitations and brainstorming possible solutions will help both feel more comfortable with changes in responsibilities. In addition, although it may be difficult for both partners, it is important to accept outside help from friends, family members, or professionals.


  1. Needs. Because physical and emotional needs change frequently as couples cope with cancer, it is important for both partners and family members to communicate their needs. Asking for help with basic activities of daily life, such as getting dressed or washing the hair, may be difficult. However, the partner may not know that he/she need help or may not want to offend by offering it. As a result, it is important to talk openly and clearly express the needs to avoid the frustration and anger that could result from misinterpreting the spouse’s behaviour.


  1. Good communication. It is especially important in relationships between people with cancer and those who care about them. A lack of communication often leads to isolation, frustration, and misunderstandings. Talking about feelings and personal needs with honesty, sincerity, and openness greatly reduces the stress that cancer places on relationships. If they are having a hard time talking with people, or if others don’t seem to want to communicate with, they should consider asking for help by joining a support group or talking with a counsellor or social worker.


Now, I am not saying that all throughout, having a family member with cancer is very difficult. Well, it really is, but let us not make this the hindrance for us to be depressed, saddened or give up on our loved one. We must fight!



The Cost of Cancer Treatment

Cancer is a costly illness. It can take a toll on your health, your emotions, your time, your relationships and your wallet. There will be unforeseen and unexpected charges, and even the best health insurance won’t cover all your costs.

Costs you have to pay because your health insurance doesn’t are called out-of-pocket costs. They can add up quickly and may make it hard for you to pay for other things you need. In some cases, the cost is so high a person decides to stop cancer treatment, or not get it at all. This may end up costing more later on as the cancer grows. But the bigger problem is that cutting short treatment or not getting it worsens health outcomes.


Sometimes there are things a person can do to try to lower the cost of cancer and its treatment and still get quality cancer care. Don’t wait until you have financial problems to discuss cancer costs with your health care team.


You might feel as if you don’t have the energy to deal with cancer and talk about money, too. You may want to ask a friend or family member to keep track of costs for you. This person can go with you to doctor visits and help with these discussions.


Here, I offer some tips on what costs you can expect. Believe me, I do know most of the expenses in cancer treatments:


Planning for treatment

This will help you know what to expect. It also will help you plan for and deal with the costs more realistically. For many people with cancer, there are medical expenses from things such as:

  • Doctor visits
  • Lab tests (blood tests, urine tests, and more, which are usually billed separately)
  • Clinic visits for treatments
  • Procedures (for diagnosis or treatment, which can include room charges, equipment, different doctors, and more)
  • Imaging tests (like x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, which may mean separate bills for radiologist fees, equipment, and any medicines used for the test)
  • Radiation treatments (implants, external radiation, or both)
  • Drug costs (inpatient, outpatient, prescription, non-prescription, and procedure-related)
  • Hospital stays (which can include many types of costs such as drugs, tests, and procedures as well as nursing care, doctor visits, and consults with specialists)
  • Surgery (surgeon, anesthesiologist, pathologist, operating room fees, equipment, medicines, and more)
  • Home care (can include equipment, drugs, visits from specially trained nurses, and more)
  • What to ask about costs of cancer treatment
  • Many people feel unsure about bringing up money while planning their cancer treatment. But cost is something you should address up front. You can start by talking with the doctor who’s treating you for cancer. He or she will usually know who can help you find answers.


Many people feel unsure about bringing up money while planning their cancer treatment. But cost is something you should address up front. You can start by talking with the doctor who’s treating you for cancer. He or she will usually know who can help you find answers.


After all, me do everything for our family, right? It was really hard for when my father has a cancer. It was hard on us financially and emotionally as well. But don’t lose hope!

Battling Cancer That Is Not My Own

Finding out a loved one has cancer can be overwhelming. Well, I know how awful it can be. It really breaks my heart when my father had one. Cancer affects not only the person diagnosed but all those who care about that person. You may be wondering, “What should I do now?” or “How can I help?” I believe you have the ability to make a difference. The following six tips are intended to help you tackle the challenges of caring about someone with cancer.

  1. Find YOUR Support System. When a friend or loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it’s an emotional time. Roles and expectations may change or you may wonder if they are going to change. Sometimes it’s difficult to talk with your loved one about your feelings, because you both have so much going on. Many find one of the best ways to cope with stress, uncertainty, and loneliness is to talk to others who share similar experiences. You can learn from personal experiences how to be effective in your new role as a caregiver, if you are one.


  1. Gather Information. There is truth to the phrase, “Knowledge is power.” There’s no way to completely grasp the ups and downs of a cancer diagnosis and treatment and you shouldn’t be expected to. Being armed with knowledge may help you accommodate you loved one’s needs, however, and put you at ease because you know what to expect.


  1. Recognize a “New Normal” Patients and caregivers alike report feeling a loss of control after a cancer diagnosis. Many caregivers are asked for advice about medical decisions or managing family finances and/or need to take on new day-to-day chores. It is likely that your tasks as a caregiver will create new routines. After all, you’re taking on a new role in the patient’s life as well as your own.


  1. Relieve Your Mind, Recharge Your Body It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the tasks of caregiving. Mini-breaks are an easy way to replenish your energy and lower your stress. Try simple activities like taking a walk around the block or closing your eyes for 10 minutes in a comfortable chair. Taking time for yourself is not selfish. It’s necessary. You are working hard to provide and secure the best care for your loved one. Time spent recharging your mind and body will allow you to avoid depression or burnout.


  1. Accept a Helping Hand. It’s okay to have “helpers.” In fact, you may find that learning to let go and to say “YES!” will ease your anxiety and lift your spirits. People often want to chip in, but aren’t quite sure what type of assistance you need. It’s helpful to keep a list of all caregiving tasks, small to large. That way, when someone asks “Is there anything I can do?” you are able to offer them specific choices.


  1. Consider Exploring Stress-Management Techniques. Even if you’ve never practiced mind-body exercises before, you may find that meditation, yoga, listening to music or simply breathing deeply will relieve your stress. Research shows that these practices can enhance the immune system as well as the mind’s ability to influence bodily function and relieve symptoms.


This is my challenge, our challenge. To be able to go through the experience of the cancer, I will not lose hope! You should also be brave and I know we can all go through this.

About Cancer, Hope and Depression

Being depressed is much more intense than feeling down or sad, as we all do from time to time. Feeling sad now and then is part of life but depression is a much stronger feeling than sadness. Depression is harder to bear, and can affect your ability to cope with everyday things such as eating, sleeping, hygiene, social activities and work.

Depression is a medical illness, like having a broken leg or a heart condition. It needs treatment. It is not a condition that you can just shake off. It’s important to remember that being depressed doesn’t mean that you are weak.


If you are depressed, it’s impossible to simply get over it. This is very often difficult for people around you to understand. Unless someone has been depressed themselves, it is almost impossible for them to understand how it feels.


Depression is said to be the least recognised symptom in people with cancer. Yet it can be one of the hardest for you and your family to cope with. We are now better at noticing and treating depression in people with cancer. But we’re still not sure exactly how common it is. There is still a lot more significant research to be done.


Depression may happen soon after you are diagnosed. Well, in our case, my father. But it is also quite normal to become depressed after finishing your treatment. As one person told me “It wasn’t until a long time afterwards that I realised the stress of my cancer had made me depressed and very tearful.”


It was really difficult for us to cope up with depression because of my father’s illness. It was a very hard time indeed. At the time, my father put so much effort into getting over the diagnosis and getting through the treatment that he don’t always have time to think it all through. It isn’t until everything is over that it hits you. This can be difficult for other people to understand. Just when he think he should be getting back to normal, he may feel more down than ever. It may help to talk to a counsellor or psychologist.


It’s completely understandable to have very strong feelings of sadness for some time after the diagnosis or during a treatment. But this is not the same as being depressed. The important thing to know is that depression can be treated. Without treatment the symptoms of depression may go on for a very long time, sometimes months or years. But with the right treatment for depression, 8 out of 10 people (80%) will feel better within a few weeks. So if you suspect someone could be depressed, it’s best to speak to your doctor or nurse so that you can have treatment quickly.


It may help to know that patients with more social support tend to feel less anxious and depressed and report a better quality of life. People with cancer find it encouraging to have others who listen and help with the practical aspects of dealing with cancer. Asking family members and loved ones for this kind of support may help reduce the patient’s distress and the distress of those who care about him or her.