Coping with cancer can be difficult, even for patients who have an expansive support network. For instance, some people have a devoted partner as well as several family members and close friends who are readily available to help out with whatever may be needed. For those who are single or do not have a primary caregiver, however, cancer treatment can be especially challenging. But, it doesn’t have to be.
If you’re in this situation, there are several possible ways to find the support you need. For instance:
- If you have extended family members, reach out and ask them to play a larger role in your life at this time. You might establish some strong bonds that endure far beyond your treatment.
- Turn to some of the people around you, such as your neighbors, co-workers and other acquaintances – even if you don’t feel particularly close to them. Opening up to others can be difficult if you’re accustomed to living independently, so you might start by being specific about what you need. For example, you could ask someone to drive you to an appointment, bring you a meal, walk your dog or simply lend a listening ear. You will likely find that once people understand exactly what you need – cancer can be mysterious and confusing – many will be more than willing to help you.
- Hire a visiting nurse to stop by your home and check on you periodically.
- Find out if there are any volunteers in your community who can help out with chores and provide companionship as needed.
- Join a support group that you can participate in online, by phone or in person. Connecting with others who are facing similar situations can provide a valuable sense of camaraderie and hope, inspire new ways to cope and lessen any feelings of isolation.
- Join a group that is organized around an activity you enjoy, such as books, art or music. Spending time with others who share your interests can help you live in the moment and provide a much-needed respite from thinking about cancer.
As you begin your cancer treatment, be sure to remind yourself that you have handled difficult situations on your own in the past, and you can do so now, too. Also, consider that some people believe it is actually preferable to go through cancer treatment alone. Specifically, they appreciate having the freedom to focus entirely on their own needs without having to worry about putting on a happy face for others. Plus, not every partnership is a good one, and having to deal with an unsupportive partner during cancer treatment can be especially stressful and detrimental.
With regard to forming new relationships, cancer can sometimes be a complicating factor, but it can also be a positive force. Many survivors report that having cancer taught them to worry less about small things and instead recognize and appreciate the good things that are all around them, such as the people who step up and provide valuable support.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, no patient is ever alone. If you need us, we’re here to help you through every step of your cancer treatment journey and beyond. To learn more about our supportive care services, you can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. No referrals are required.