When Someone You Love Is Diagnosed With Cancer: What You Should Or Should Not Do
My Own Story
When a friend or family member is diagnosed with Cancer it can be heart-breaking. Suddenly your world has changed. We believe all of our hopes and dreams with them have forever been changed. The battle has begun and its hard for both the person you love and friends and family.
Mom was diagnosed in October 2009 with stage 4 Metastatic breast cancer. The cancer had already moved to her brain and there was a small mass in her colon. When we found out as daughters, we were devastated. When the doctors' told us a year we still tried to remain hopeful.
Radiation began in November and she was hopeful, she was going to beat the Cancer. With fear in my heart, I also prayed that she would be a survivor. We journeyed 60 miles everyday, round-trip for radiation. When chemo began it was going to the oncologist and getting blood transfusions. My eyes would well up with tears when she wasn't looking and I would cry.
Angry by the diagnosis I remained hopeful. Mom and all of us were supposed to grow old together. She was my best friend. Little did all of us realize 10 months after her diagnosis God would call her home.
There will be those who survive a Cancer diagnosis, my younger sister is a survivor. Valentine's Day of this year, we were told she was Cancer free. That response was a moment frozen in time for all of us. Although mom did not survive,she fought for her life until the very end. We made our sister fight when she wanted to give up and she survived.
What You Should Do
When someone you love is diagnosed with Cancer, regardless if its Stage 1 or Stage 4, its imperative that you are supportive.
Enroll in a strong support group. Many hospitals and the American Cancer Association have a list of meetings you can attend.
Talk to the person who is going through the treatment. Treat them the same way as they have always been treated. If you are afraid, remember they are too.
When someone is diagnosed at a late stage like mom was, cherish each moment. Go places, do things together when feasible. Ask all of the questions that you may not have answers too.
If you are the care giver, you are allowed to take a break. Have a family member or friend spend time with your loved one. Treat yourself when you can, they are going to need you through this journey.
Share with others, your thoughts, feelings and emotions. In mom's final days, I openly wrote each day about our journey together. It was my outlet when I was in pain. They are still published and I am not ready to go back and read them. A great on-line site for people with cancer is, people with cancer its a place where they can share stories when they are going through this troubling time.
If you get upset or angry, its okay. Go scream at the mountains, take a walk or exercise. Its a great stress reliever and will help you release all of that tension.
What You Should Not Do
When they are diagnosed the doctor will give you the outlook on the diagnosis. Positive or negative never make them quit any habits right away. If they smoke, allow them time to quit. If they drink the same applies.
Let them decide if they are going to seek treatment and what type of treatment they will seek. If your loved one decides not to go through with Chemotherapy or radiation it is their choice. Not ours. It sounds harsh because we always want the best for them; but let them make the choice.
If they don't feel like eating, don't force them. Treatment can take a lot out of a patient. So long as they maintain there weight, it will be fine. Ensure shakes, protein shakes can be used as replacement meals.
Sharing their dreams is important. Don't tell them if they don't quit those bad habits, they won't be here to see it. Don't think of it as a death sentence. Millions are diagnosed and millions survive cancer everyday.
Don't complain about all that you are going through and wish it would soon be over. I over heard a woman saying that to her father, when we were at radiation with mom. He to was fighting for his life. I walked right over to her and said, " How would you feel, if you were walking in his shoes?" If looks could kill, I am sure I would have been six-foot under. But seriously, never say anything negative that could come back and haunt you when they are gone.
When your loved one is diagnosed, each individual is different. There were times when I would get frustrated because chemotherapy was so long. In the beginning we would drop her off and run errands. She still felt very independent. But as the months progressed and her body could not handle the chemo anymore, we would stay.
In July 2010 during a visit to the oncologist, they told us her Cancer had spread to her liver. They informed her she only had weeks. Mom cried, I cried and writing the end of this is hard; because it brings me to tears. On August 21,2010 mom lost her life to Cancer.
She was courageous, a fighter and never gave up when the odds were against her. If you have a loved one who is going through this diagnosis, please be loving, caring and compassionate. If they survive, rejoice and be thankful. If they are fighting for their life, spend time with them, treat them normal and be there soldier.
Survivors are miracles that happen.
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