By Amy Kalman, RN
Stop for a moment and think about an achievement and disappointment that you have experienced in life. Regardless of success or failure, you likely received some form of support from friends or family, and in some instances both. They were either cheering you in victory or opening their arms for a warm, comforting hug in a moment of difficulty. Either way, you recognize that the journey would have been much more difficult if you had done it all alone. Creation of a support team applies this philosophy to your experience with cancer.
Bringing a trusted friend or family member to appointments provides you with emotional support when stress or anxiety seems overwhelming. Having company during tests and treatments can make a potentially painful or uncomfortable experience tolerable, even positive. Spouses, parents, siblings or adult children can act as a second set of eyes and ears. And if equipped with pen and paper, they can also be your note taker. With so much information on your mind to process, your support team can also serve as an excellent source of information that you may forget to provide your physician or other healthcare providers. Friends, family, and members of your religious affiliation (church, synagogue, mosque, or other prayer center) can also tend to daily responsibilities such as food preparation, dog walking, and housecleaning in addition to providing spiritual encouragement.
It is important to express your needs and communicate with your support team in an assertive and upfront manner. In other words…tell them clearly what you want them to do! As a result, in addition to improving some of life’s stressors, your support team can alleviate feelings of restlessness, tension, irritability and fear. In return you are giving your loved ones a chance to contribute to your recovery as well as an opportunity to improve your own physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing!
How has your support system helped you? Share your thoughts in the comments below or in our Cancer community.