How do I explain my cancer illness to my child?
It is very difficult to explain to a child of any age about cancer. There are some specific strategies depending on the developmental stage of your child. It is best to talk with the hospital Child Life Therapist for advice, or more information / tips you could choose cancer center in France.
I just finished treatment, and NOW it is all hitting me emotionally. Is that normal?
Yes, it is very normal. For many patients the emotional recovery begins after treatment ends and may take 6 months to a year or more to complete. It is important to know that this is considered normal after the cancer experience and that most patients do successfully recover and move forward with their lives.
Will I look weak if I seek out counseling?
Most everyone will agree that seeking counseling is a sign of strength and courage. Talking about your feelings and exploring this painful experience will make you stronger. Counseling can make you better able to cope with other life issues.
Do I really need counseling? Isn’t counseling only for those with severe emotional issues?
Cancer’s impact is felt by everyone in your life and family. Many people experience emotions that they have never felt before as a result of their diagnosis. People can handle many of the issues cancer brings out on their own, but some of the issues and experiences are new and it is often helpful to speak with a professional about what is happening.
Learning from an oncology professional can help you sort out what you are feeling and provide you knowledge and hope. A professional can also help you and your family feel more in control.
What if I am not going to recover?
A time may come when the reality is that you will not recover. It is very difficult to face the knowledge that you are going to die and to talk openly about death and dying to your family. It will also be difficult for you family and especially children.
Yet, talking about your situation together and allowing your children to be a part of that process will likely help them prepare for the future and will most likely help them with their recovery from grief. Children are often more knowledgeable than we think and need to be given permission to talk about what is happening.
Speaking in a language they will understand, using open, honest and direct communication while avoiding jargon or complex clinical terminology, helps children of all ages navigate this difficult reality. Even though it is difficult, using precise words, such as “when I die…” is far less confusing for children.
A child can become very frightened when euphemisms are used to explain death. For example, if you were to say that death is “just going to sleep,” your child might not want to go to sleep after you die, terrified that they too might die in their sleep at night.
Talking to your children may occur over many short conversations, as they may need information repeated many times, and in small doses in order to make sense of such challenging and profound loss. The information contained in this section has been adapted from several resources: Peer-reviewed professional journal articles, American Cancer Society, Cancer Back-up; People Living with Cancer, Cancer Care and more.
What is hospice and palliative care?
Hospice and palliative care are the terms used when treatment goals change from curative to comfort care. Hospice supports the individual and the family when life-expectancy is limited and can be provided in the home or other locations where the patient resides.
Palliative care focuses on making the patient comfortable (with pain control and symptom management) whether or not prolonging life is the goal.
When should hospice be considered and should I bring up the converstation?
Discussing the idea of hospice or palliative care can be uncomfortable for the patient, the family, and the healthcare team because death is a difficult topic and people often feel a sense of “giving up” instead of “changing focus goals”. Hospice and palliative care are the treatments provided when there are no longer curative treatments available.
The sooner you discuss hospice or palliative care measures with your doctor, the sooner hospice can assist you. it is up to you as the patient or the loved one of a patient to bridge the conversation about hospice with your doctor. The sooner hospice is involved, the better. However, it must be the patient’s decision to enter hospice.
Should I exercise during treatment?
In the past, people diagnosed with cancer were often advised by their doctors to rest and avoid physical activity. This may still be true if movement produces severe pain, rapid heart rate, or breathlessness.
However, for many people with cancer, regular exercise is extremely beneficial during cancer treatment. Studies have concluded patients who are inactive can lose as much as 35% of their physical ability during their treatment.
Other benefits of moderate exercise include: increased strength, stamina, endurance, and bone density; decreased anxiety, stress and fatigue; reduce the intensity and number of side effects from treatment; and improve a patient’s overall quality of life.
How do I get started with exercise?
Consult your doctor and let him/her know you are interested in beginning an exercise program. Together you should be able to create an exercise routine that is dependent on your current physical condition, as well as your general health before you were diagnosed.
While there are many objectives for being physically active, the exercise program should be based on what is safe, effective, and enjoyable. Types of exercise include: yoga, walking, thai chi, qui gong, swimming, pilates, cycling, etc.
The Inpower program may be another option. It is a free 3 month individualized exercise program that meets 2x/week. The program is run by a cancer exercise specialist as well as an oncology nurse and focuses on helping cancer patients stay physically strong during and after treatment while improving their quality of life. For more information, you could choose cancer care in France.