It’s not easy when you learn that someone you know – a friend, colleague, or loved one dear to your heart – has cancer. And it’s not easy to let go of general beliefs that cancer can lead to death in most cases. Some of the stories that we hear or read on the news have been ingrained in us. People often pick up impressions about dealing with cancer patients from such stories, movies, and the internet.
Fortunately, you can do yourself a big favour by looking at the scientific facts. Not all cancers lead to death, and in the majority of cases, the physical and emotional toll it takes on the person can be reduced to a significant level through knowledge and patience.
1. Expect Physical Changes
Cancer affects not only the inside organs but the physical appearance of the person as well. Those are the side effects of either cancer itself or the treatment that one undergoes, such as chemotherapy and medications. So obviously, expect the person with cancer to have:
- Weight loss or gain
- Appetite loss or gain
- Hair loss
- Changes in smell or taste
- Changes in skin colour
- Lack of interest in work or hobbies
And so on.
2. Expect Emotional Turmoil
Every person eventually develops his or her own way of coping with cancer. Sometimes the affected person may resort to conflicts for little or no reason. The next thing, he or she will develop a habit of staying silent and get all bottled up and tensed. The person’s emotions may change every day, even every hour. In fact, cancer doctors inform us that the person’s fluctuating hormones – as a direct result of cancer – can shape their emotions and memory.
The alternative: Expect this to be normal. Understand that some amount of conflict is the new way for the person with cancer to talk or express how they feel. This shouldn’t be a serious matter if you educate yourself and be prepared to face such changes. Knowing the ways in which people with cancer deal with emotional turmoils differently will lead you to change perspective, try a new way of communicating, and move on.
In essence, there are no true behavioural patterns about cancer patients that fit all of the people. Expect that the person will have good days and bad days, and learning to live with this uncertainty is the first step towards a cure. Over time, you will be able to adjust with these emotions and to the new reality in your life.
3. Expect Improvements and New Coping Mechanisms
People with cancer develop new ways to cope with their disease. Paul, for example, has always believed that stress or worrying is a precursor to more serious side effects of his thyroid cancer. So he found a new passion and is now a guitar player for a popular music band. His cancer went into remission because he believed that any amount of stress couldn’t be good for the health.
Some people with cancer use humour or alternate lifestyle to find relief from this illness’s serious nature. Additionally, work can bring a great sense of importance in a person’s life. A person with cancer can not only boost their self-worth through work but focus more on their skills and ability rather than the illness itself. All of these coping mechanisms can enable one to meet issues head-on without fear. Their passion and interest in something can become opportunities to delve more deeply into their own feelings, concerns, and needs.