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The Impact of Cancer on the Family Unit (Psycho-Social Issues)

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The Impact of Cancer on the Family Unit (Psycho-Social Issues). (KUTV)

(KUTV) How can you deal with the impact a cancer diagnosis has on the whole family? Jilynne Hafen, a Social Worker at the Intermountain Southwest Cancer Center in St. George helps answer how cancer can cause psycho-social issues.

What impact can cancer have on a family?

Cancer is a bit like a tsunami. Because the diagnosis of cancer, like the tsunami, can seem so big, family members are often effected similarly to the patient. Their loved one has been diagnosed with a frightening illness and suddenly their own environment is different and their future seems unsure.

  • It is very important to be mindful of the children

What tips can you give us if a family member has cancer?

  • a. First of all, listen.
  • b. Honesty is the best policy
  • c. Allow yourselves and loved ones the opportunity to grieve (internal feelings regarding an event), and then mourn (the outward expressions of our feelings). Grieving and mourning are natural processes.
  • We do not want to bottle up those feelings.
  • Do not try to pressure ourselves or our loved ones to think or believe “everything is fine”.
  • Be more than the cancer.
  • It is important, however, to find time, even if it is only a few moments each day, to do the things you enjoy.
  • It is important to remember that even when treatment is finished, and a person “looks normal” and their hair has grown back, your loved one is still healing, emotionally and physically.
  • Many of the patients I see in my office are actually finished with treatment, but are trying to find the “new me” as they may have a different body, perspective on life, and really are trying to still heal.
  • Very often they feel pressure from loved ones, coworkers, etc., to “get back to normal”.
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