Dealing With Friends and Family When You Have a Cancer Diagnosis
When you receive a cancer diagnosis, you may find that your friends are family are anxious to know how they can support you. You might welcome this, or you may find that it feels like yet another burden. You may feel both of these things at various times. The tips below can help you navigate your relationships during this difficult period.
It's okay to set boundaries even with helpful friends and family members. You may get a lot of well-meaning advice, or your loved ones may disagree with your treatment choices. While recognizing that this is difficult for them as well as you are important, you are ultimately the person with cancer, and you have the right to decide how to progress. It's also fine to set boundaries about privacy. While some relatives may be prone to sharing regular updates on social media, you can let them know if you are not comfortable with this. There are sites that are set up to allow private updates for only certain people, and you may want to look into this if you want to be able to communicate with a number of people at once.
You may need to think of many practical considerations, from whether and how you can keep doing your job to whether you can drive yourself to your regular appointments or need someone to take you to how you will pay for treatment. If you have life insurance, you could consider selling it as part of a viatical settlement. You can review a guide on this option to see how you could benefit. This could give you the money to pay for certain treatments or services or anything else you might want, and it may allow you to worry less about creating a burden for loved ones.
If you've always been independent or thought of yourself as someone who takes care of others, it can be hard for you to accept help from others, whether that's practical help or emotional support. However, it's critical that you do so. You can't go through this on your own. If it makes it easier for you to accept assistance, remind yourself that it helps your loved ones to be able to help you.
You may feel a variety of conflicting emotions, some of which are unexpected. For example, you may expect fear or sadness, but you might be surprised that you feel anger at annoyance at loved ones. It's important to know that these are all completely normal. It's also important to be able to express yourself even if you can't always do so freely to the person who has sparked those emotions. Building good communication skills will help you be able to palate some of the more difficult conversations that may come as a result of your diagnosis such as end of life care or financial details.
Talking to loved ones can help but finding outside support can be crucial as well. A counselor or a support group of others who have cancer as well can give you the space to vent various emotions and fears that you may feel unable to share with those close to you. They may also be able to suggest strategies for dealing with your family and friends.