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Role Reversal: Reaching Out for Help

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In addition to your outside job, you probably manage most of your family’s daily needs. These can include preparing meals, doing laundry and housework, helping with homework, shopping, and managing your family's finances.All this plus a full-time job. But now, with cancer, you may find that you need more care and support than ever before.

Common Concerns
Among women with cancer, concerns often center on loss of control and the reactions of others to their illness. Some of the most common concerns are:

  • I don’t feel like I have control of anything-my health, my family, or my life.
  • People are running away from the situation. They don’t know how to act around me.
  • I need more emotional support.
  • I’m being excluded from family discussions and decisions. I don’t want to be treated like an invalid.
  • My family isn’t communicating-we aren’t dealing with our fears, concerns and resentments.

For anyone facing serious illness, one of the hardest things to come to terms with is loss of control. But having cancer doesn’t mean you have to give up all control. It's important to continue everyday routines as much has possible, while looking for and receiving the support you need.

Consider These Ideas to Simplify your life:

Let some things go, doing only those most important to you.

  • Relax housekeeping standards.
  • Ask family members to take over some responsibilities, if they can.
  • Consider getting outside help. County or private agencies may provide trained homemakers. Community and religious organizations may also provide or even help pay for household help as well as transportation.
  • Ask relatives and friends to give your children extra time and attention. They need fun activities and support.

Open the Lines of Communication
Talking with friends and family can help all of you to feel better. Even though you have cancer and are supposed to be th eone who's "sick," you may need to make the first move. Others may not know how to approach you. It will help if you’re open in talking about your cancer experience and if you let others know they can speak frankly too.

Everyone in the family may feel overwhelmed, afraid and neglected as roles shift and change. As important as it is to lend support to the person with cancer, it's also important for family members to take care of their own needs. Sometimes that's easier said than done.

Family counseling may help you and your family face fears and worries in a safe way. Ask a member of your health care team for a referral to a licensed counselor. And keep in mind that even if you are confined to bed, you still need to be included in family discussions and decisions.

Practical Concerns of Daily Life
If you have cancer and are physically and emotionally able to continue your normal activities, then do so. Going to work and feeling useful will make you feel less out of control and may also lessen your anxiety. But cancer and its treatment can make you tired, so recognize your limitations and be sure to get enough rest.

Putting It In Perspective
Sometimes the best solutions come from those who have "been there." Many self-help groups exist—for people with cancer and for family members. They give emotional support and provide practical tips to guide you through this difficult time. For more information ask your medical team or call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345, or visit ACS online at www.cancer.org.

Para solicitar información en español, llame al 1-800-227-2345. Un especialista en información sobre el cáncer le asistirá en español.

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