Thursday, November 19, 2009

What to Do When a Loved One Has Cancer

I was asked if I would consider a guest post.  Here it is.

I wouldn’t wish it on even my worst enemy because it is a fate worse than death – being afflicted by cancer is to die even while you live, slowly and painfully. I watched a close friend suffer every single day after being diagnosed with colorectal cancer. And I watched her die too after begging us not to prolong her agony by putting her on the ventilator after her lungs aspirated. It’s hard to digest the fact that a loved one has cancer, the deadliest disease that we know of. It eats you up alive and the most you can do is watch helplessly as they suffer and struggle to accept their fate. If you’re making an effort to cope with this disease when a loved one is afflicted, here is some advice that will help a little:

  • Know what to expect: It is going to be hard to face reality, but when it comes to cancer, being prepared is an absolute necessity. Talk to your loved one’s doctor very openly and ask how you can make them more comfortable and happy in their last days. Don’t be gloomy all the time and try to make their life as joyful as possible on the days when they are relatively pain free and comfortable. And accept the fact that there is nothing you can do except help alleviate their pain and offer them company when they want it.

  • Your loved one is bound to be unreasonable: There was an episode on Gray’s Anatomy where a man who had a malignant tumor in his brain abused his wife verbally every chance he got. The poor woman had to cope with his rapid change in moods besides struggling to accept the fact that he was most likely to die during the experimental surgery that was scheduled later that day. A doctor helps her understand why her husband behaved like he did – he was probably trying to drive her away from emotionally so she would not mourn his passing; it was his way of making things easier on her and himself; and it was a way to forget the sadness and pain of the situation. So if your loved one is unreasonable, don’t take it to heart – they are only struggling to cope with the disease and its repercussions.

  • Plan for the future: It may sound callous, but if you’re not prepared in terms of wills and last testaments, you could have legal wrangles to deal with on top of all the emotional stress and sorrow as well. Make plans for the future of your children if you’re leaving them behind and get all your issues in order before death catches up with your loved one.

  • Seek professional help if you need to: If you don’t have an outlet for your feelings and emotions, you’re going to end up affecting your health as well. So seek the support of your family and friends, and if necessary, talk to a professional therapist too. They will help you come to terms with your grief and agony.

Jessica Martin has contributed this guest post, she writes on the topic of x-ray tech schools . She welcomes your comments at her email address:


  1. thank you jessica, thank you mel... i feel as though this was written specifically for me and my family.
    thank you for the sage advice.

  2. Mel and Jessica...

    So great that you did this! As a spouse to a bc wife I can tell you we need to get our story out. It's a hard road...and while I know we're not the ones in treatment...watching and hoping and ultimately being able to nothing to cure the ones we love...well it's tough. It's tough all the way around isn't it?

    Thanks for this.

  3. Hi I hope you guys email Jessica and tell her you enjoyed her post.