Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cancer Stigma

I've watched my sister Lucy go through a roller coaster of emotions over the past few months as she's battled NHL. Dealing with the physical complications of chemo and contemplating mortality are only two of the many issues she's faced. One area of struggle that I never expected for her is the social dynamics that accompany being a cancer victim. People often don't know what to say to Luce, or how to treat her. Friends sometimes feel uncomfortable and stop calling to chat.

The Mayo Clinic just published a short guide for cancer patients dealing with the cancer stigma. Here it is:

  • As you choose to share information with others; give them the facts and then let them know what might help you at the moment. For example, you might say: "I was just diagnosed with stage II breast cancer and will be having surgery next week. What would really help me is if you could do my grocery shopping for me for a few weeks while I recover."

  • Keep doing the things you love to do. For example, an exercise routine (modified if needed), relaxing hobbies and time with friends. The more you are open to others, the more support you will find.

  • Seek out support and resources for your cancer type. This could be through a support group, online blog or other resource. Surround yourself with positive people.

  • Be well informed. Ask questions about your treatment, side effects, long term effects and prognosis. Be honest with those around you if they have questions. It is usually a good idea to give information to those who love you. In this manner, they can know what to expect and how to give you support along the way.

To see the entire article, click here.

1 comment:

  1. I think #2 is exceptionally important while battling cancer. I constantly read stories of people overcoming cancer who attribute their success to their hobbies, whether it be running, knitting, or attending religious ceremonies. These activities can help take your mind off of the illness and focus on something constructive.