Your friends and family members were with you every step of the way during your cancer treatment. It’s hard to imagine what it would have been like without their support. Now that you’re in remission, you’re ready to get on with your life. In other words, you’ve moved beyond the cancer patient label. But they don’t seem to have caught up with you. The looks of concern and pity aren’t what you need. And how many times a day can you answer the “are you okay?” question?
Your loved ones may need some “patient” education – with a lot of patience on your end. Here’s how to get started:
1. Teach by example. Talk about what you’re doing, what you’re planning, how you’re adjusting to any changes that have your diagnosis and treatment. Show them that you are taking the best possible care of yourself.
2. Be who you are. Our loved ones know when we aren’t having a good day. And when they sense you aren’t, those alarms are going to start going off. So also let them know when you do need some extra support and understanding. If you are having a bad day, don’t pressure yourself to pretend otherwise.
3. Anticipate questions. Keep in mind that, unless you hold a community forum, your friends and family members may need to be educated one at a time. You might want to offer answers to the questions that you suspect your loved ones have but are afraid to ask. Something like: “I suspect you have a few questions about my remission and what my life is going to be like. So I just want to say….” And then give them an update.
4. Let your loved ones know how they can help. Those pitying looks and that repeat of “how are you doing?” may be your loved ones’ flat-footed attempts to show that they want to continue to be supportive, but aren’t sure what you need. So let them know how they can help. Beginning with what you don’t need them to do. And assure them that you will ask if you do need help.
5. Be gentle but firm. Make use of teachable moments. When a loved one tries to start up a pity party with you, use that moment to gently let them know how you feel when they behave that way. Some humor might help.
6. Offer to help. You’ve been through a really difficult experience, and so have your loved ones. Your recovery has not only been physical but also emotional, and they are going through their own emotional recovery. “I’m ready to move forward. I know you are, too. Maybe we can help each other.”
Managing the transition from cancer patient to cancer thriver Your friends and family members were with you every Read More