Your friends and family love you and are worried about you – but sometimes they show up in a strange way. Some people retire and avoid talking to you. Others suffocate and treat you like a child.
Many cancer survivors find that one of the barriers to a smooth transition from cancer therapy is the response they receive from friends and family members. Cancer survivors can prepare for relationship difficulties by anticipating and planning these problems.
Common Relationship Issues for Cancer Survivors
Navigating relationships can be challenging for cancer survivors who go into a life after treatment. You may recognize some of the following scenarios:
Change of responsibility. During the treatment, you may not have been able to do any of the household chores that you performed prior to your cancer diagnosis.
For example, you might cook for groceries and dinner. If you have tired of the cancer treatment and you could not continue with these tasks, your partner or another family member may have come to you.
Now that your cancer treatment is over, that person may expect you to take those responsibilities back. but you may not feel right yet. This can be frustrating for your family member, and you may feel pressured to do more than you can handle.
role change. If you were an acquired person before the cancer, you may find this during the treatment your partner had to take on this role. Deciding when and how to switch back can be confusing and cumbersome.
Retreat from you. You will find that some friends and family members are avoiding you. This can be subtle or open, e.g. For example, if someone stops giving your phone calls. Either way, it hurts.
People retire for a variety of reasons. Someone may not know what to say, or worry about saying something wrong. He or she may not know how to offer assistance. Others do not know how to react.
Too much attention. Instead of feeling lonely, you may well be overwhelmed with good intentions. Friends or family members could make you do things for you when no help is needed. They love you and want to help, but in fact they are also helpful
To be curious. Some people ask a lot of questions – maybe more than you answer. 19659020] Confusing expectations. If your recovery does not go as well as you had hoped, you could be frustrated. You can expect everything to return to normal immediately, but that does not happen. Do not try to expand your frustration on the people around you. If you do, you could push them away.
Whether or not you have problems with your relationships often depends on your strength. Those who are already tense tend to continue after cancer and sometimes fall apart completely. However, strong relationships can be compounded by the cancer experience.
What you can do to maintain relationships with friends and family
Before you get rid of feelings of loneliness and isolation, remember that you can take steps to nurture relationships with friends and family. The first step is to acknowledge that all these people are taking care of you, and everyone has their own way of responding to your cancer.
Tips for restoring relationships are:
Start the conversation. Some people might want to do this to ask how you feel, but they do not know what to say. Or maybe they think they are upset.
Start the conversation yourself. Let people know that you welcome their questions – or that you do not want to talk about your cancer at this time.
Accept help. Friends and family will ask you if they can do something for you. Plan in advance and find ways to help people, whether you're in the house or just there for you when you want to talk. Friends and family feel good when they get involved.
Let others know what you can expect from them. If you are not ready to take on the responsibilities you had before you diagnosed cancer, you do not feel pressured to resume these duties too early. But tell your family what to expect, so they will not be surprised.
When you're ready to return to your previous routines, tell your family that these tasks can help you feel more normal and help with your recovery
Keep the friendships that matter. Some people may withdraw from you, and you must let them go. Do not try to use a lot of emotional energy to build relationships that were not strong at first. Invest your time and energy in the friends closest to you.
Plan what you say. You will receive questions about your cancer and your treatment. Decide how to answer these questions – especially if someone asks questions that you would rather not answer.
In some situations, you let the person know that you are uncomfortable with the subject. Otherwise, you might avoid answering an inconvenient question by changing the topic or redirecting the conversation.
Be patient with others. When you are frustrated, remember that the people around you have good intentions. They may not know the right things to say or do, so their words and actions may seem inappropriate or critical. This awkwardness can result from the unknownness of the situation.
Stay involved if you can. Some friends or family members may not invite you to do anything because they believe you are not ready for social activity yet. Let them know when you want to be accepted – or ask someone to share your message.
Find support groups. You have times when you feel that people who do not have cancer can not have cancer. Understand what you are going through.
Discuss your feelings with other survivors of cancer, whether in a support group in your community or online.
Self-help groups are also available to friends and family members of cancer survivors. Suggest this to the people near you.
Get professional help. Ask your doctor for a referral to a counselor or therapist to talk to. You or he may have ideas on how to communicate better with your friends and family.
It is possible that all members of your family and friends support your recovery. However, there is a possibility that you may encounter some relationship barriers. Think about how to deal with potential problems.
Release date: 2005-10-14