Your Cancer Support Community
Although cancer can bring up isolating feelings, you are NEVER alone. You have far more support than you realize, even more support than you may know how to deal with! This blog discusses your cancer support community – people you already know and some that you are going to meet – and how to make the best of the support they are going to offer.
Existing Support System
Recognize that you already have a support system around you that is ready to be there for you as you embark on your cancer journey. This can include your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and others. Most likely, they are going to be there for you unconditionally and do whatever you may ask. This may include getting groceries, listening to you vent, spending a day together relaxing, or treating you like ‘good old you,’ not a person who has been diagnosed with cancer. This is important: they can help you retain your true identity through this time of change; to them, you are their loved one battling cancer, not a cancer patient. They will help you stay balanced, calm, and confident and provide you with love; they will also help you practice love, as you will love them in return.
Don’t be afraid to include children in your support system! Your first instinct may be to protect them, but they can play a very important role, and kids love to feel important. Laughter is truly the best medicine, and the carefree nature of children is infectious. So, while you may be inclined to limit your time with children, especially those that might not be old enough to comprehend the situation, recognize that they have a valuable role to play in your journey and would love to help you. To learn more about the science of laughter as a medicine, click here.
It may be important to set new boundaries with your existing support system as you embark on your cancer journey. Maybe you won’t want to discuss your cancer at all, and just want things to “stay the same” and that is totally okay; make sure that they are aware of it and that it isn’t because you are hiding something, but rather you want your relationship to remain the way it is. Conversely, maybe you are open and honest about your journey, but want to make sure consideration is placed into how things are phrased. There is power in positivity, so don’t be afraid to ask a friend to remain uplifting; taking the time to rearrange the words in a sentence, or how the sentence is said (tone and volume are crucial!) can make a world of difference during this time. You may have a friend that is so genuinely concerned about you, that they forget to talk about anything outside of your cancer journey; don’t hesitate to speak up! At the end of the day, your support system wants to do exactly that – support you– and you can help make sure that they are doing that in the best way possible.
Building a Cancer Community
There is also a cancer community waiting for you that you haven’t met yet: the online community. You probably already rely on the internet for cancer research – new treatments, questions you may have, or ways in which you can help yourself – but there are also ways in which you can get involved with other people like you, and other survivors, that you may not realize. A simple Google search can utilize countless communities – general survivors, specific cancers, gender based communities, the list goes on. Feel free to get test out a few until you find some that you connect with. However, remember to practice general safety rules: do not share personal or sensitive information, such as your full name, your address, or doctor’s name. This information is forever, and you can never be too careful.
Your doctors, the hospital staff, and other patients in the hospital are also part of your community; you see most, if not all, on a daily basis and know them on an intimate level. Your medical team works with you constantly, and they can provide you support unlike any others; they can offer medical expertise and help you to make the best decisions possible. Reject the misconception that the patient-doctor relationship is formal; you can rely on them for mental and emotional support as well. You are a multidimensional human being, and your doctors can help you on each level: mental, emotional, and physical.
Your cancer support community is a crucial part of your cancer journey: they will be there for you every step of the way, and even aid in making you feel better whether it is through laughter or support during your emotional healing therapies. Even though you may feel uncomfortable reaching out at first, don’t hesitate to reach out for your support system; people tend to find value in being valued so you are helping them at the same time. To learn more about the cancer support community available at CMN Hospital, click here or email us at email@example.com. You can also learn about our doctors here.