As with any other type of cancer, receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can be a downright devastating time not only for the woman but also for her entire family. It can set off a cascade of emotions, such as fear, uncertainty, and loneliness, which the spouse, children, and other members of the household can absorb, It stands to reason that experts label family members “secondary patients.”
At Dekalb Women’s Specialists, we understand how balancing family life and cancer treatment can be challenging. If you’ve just received a breast cancer diagnosis, here are a few tips from our women’s health experts to help you and your family cope and make the entire journey as less taxing as possible.
A child’s age is an important factor in deciding what, when, and how much you should reveal about your diagnosis. A good guiding principle is to tell your child(ren) the truth in a way that is easy for them to understand and anticipate the changes that may transpire within the family.
Find a quiet time. If you have more than one child, talk to them separately, so that you can tailor the information to each child’s age or level of understanding.
It also helps to encourage your children to talk to you and ask questions. Explain to them why you’re going away for a few days, or why you’re getting sick from the treatment and can’t spend time with them or take care of them.
If you’re finding it hard to relay the news to your children, consider consulting a mental health professional, who can teach you a good strategy for approaching your children.
Our emotions serve as our internal compass, helping us figure out how a certain situation can make us feel. This then enables us to make decisions about how to react to a certain situation, figure out whether we want to be in such a situation, and decide what to do.
You may feel apprehensive about your future and your life, concerned about who will run the household and how your spouse and children will function on days when you are completely unable to take care of them. Your family members may also feel guilty that they are healthy, and they are unable to help you feel better. Whatever the case, the entire family needs to take a collective breath and take treatment and recovery one step at a time. Be honest about your feelings, especially about fear and uncertainty.
Acknowledgment of real concerns and worries helps deflate the stress and allows everyone to focus on what needs to be done in the days ahead. It also helps you build a better relationship with your loved ones, which is very crucial for maintaining a healthy support system. The support of your family can help you regain a sense of normalcy and ultimately improve your chances of achieving your desired clinical outcome.
Whether it is cleaning the house, preparing the meals, or driving your children to school, receiving help from people around you can greatly lighten your load during such a stressful time.
Don’t hesitate to let your friends, relatives, and other people you trust know that you need help. You’ll be surprised at how many will gladly give a helping hand.
At Dekalb Women’s Specialists, our board-certified OB/GYNs provide care and hope for women in our communities who are living with breast cancer and all types of reproductive cancers. We will work closely with you and the rest of the members of your care team to provide you with all the support that you need to navigate your treatment and to guide you along the path to complete remission—or even to a cancer-free life.