Cancer. The word itself provokes a vast array of emotional responses: fear, anger, sadness, confusion. People are fearful of this diagnosis, of the way it can change someone’s life and the various “unknowns” that surround an individual and his or her loved ones.
Cancer is a difficult subject to talk about, and many parents coping with a diagnosis may try to avoid the topic in fear that they will upset their children. What to say about cancer, how to say it, and how much information to share are common concerns.
In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, CancerCare is encouraging anyone affected by cancer to recognize caregivers by sharing a photo that represents this important role. We want to know how being a caregiver, or being cared for when you needed it most, has impacted your life. Honor your family, friends, your pet, a health care professional or tell us how you were a caregiver – the choice is yours!
Xiomara, 46, had never been affected by cancer until her son Jaeden was suddenly diagnosed at age three with ependymoma, a rare type of brain tumor. “No one in my family had ever had cancer. When you hear about it, it is totally different than when it actually hits your family – especially a toddler,” she explains.
After Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2009, she turned to her reiki practice, a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing, to help make sense of it all. “When I was initially told I that have cancer, of course, I was shocked. I turned white in the doctor’s office,” remembers Lisa, a certified reiki master and holistic practitioner. “I immediately went into survivor mode. It was surreal, bizarre.”
Communicating with a child whose parent has been diagnosed with a chronic illness can be both confusing and overwhelming. As CancerCare’s Healing Hearts Program Coordinator, Claire Grainger, MSW, LCSW works closely with families to help navigate these challenges. Based on her professional experience and expertise, Claire has written the recently published book, “My Daddy Sits Upon a Star.”
As more patient care is happening within the home, caregivers are becoming increasingly responsible for providing ongoing emotional and practical support. However, fewer than 15 percent of caregivers seek professional help in addressing their own physical, emotional and financial needs. In celebration of National Family Caregivers Month, CancerCare encourages caregivers to seek out support.
Palliative care is specialized medical treatment that focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness. Traditionally, palliative care has been accessed only toward the end of life. Many recent studies however, have shown that introducing it earlier into cancer patients’ care plans results in improved quality of life, living longer and lower medical costs.
CancerCare recently announced a new national grant, generously provided by Celgene, available for people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
The latest edition of The ASCO Post features a conversation with CancerCare’s CEO Patricia J. Goldsmith. In the article, Goldsmith shares her personal story and her exciting vision for the organization.