Scary as it sounds, statistics show that 1 in 3 people will be affected by cancer…so how do you navigate this journey and how do your family, loved ones and friends support you and on the flip side, how are they being supported?
There is no 'one size fits all' approach to cancer counselling. Different people opt-in for different reasons and at different milestones of their journey, just as for counselling or therapy decisions during other life events. Similarly, this choice can take courage, because not everybody may find it easy or wants to talk about how cancer is affecting them or those close to them.
The experience of talking with someone independent, at a time set aside just for that purpose, can help to unburden and process the understandably difficult emotions which are accumulating.
It can also offer a safe and non-judgemental space to consider how to deal with potentially difficult choices; for example, with regards to treatment, how to share with others, or how to prepare for death in the case of a terminal diagnosis.
Some people, with the aid of counselling, start to re-prioritise their lives, and finally give themselves permission to fulfil long-held dreams, or generally start putting themselves first in a relationship.
I have had clients over the years who have admitted that they wished they had done more, said more, loved more, and just been more present… the common thread is that they would have taken a kinder approach to themselves in life and avoided ‘sweating’ the small stuff.
A great way to summarize: Don’t wait till hardship happens in your life to be happy.
Some emotional responses are common (and normal) for those either suffering from cancer or supporting someone who is - such as disbelief, denial, anger, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, depression, anxiety and loneliness. An overarching feeling can be that of bereavement for the permanent or temporary loss of health, a certain way of life, security (eg. health, finances, social status, spiritual or religious beliefs), loss of hope, aspirations and sense of self-worth. Often, people feel demoralized and ‘reduced to being only about cancer’.
Support in this arena is in short supply… it is the silent suffering that holds so much emotional trauma… let’s start the journey of being open, discussing and coming to terms with a new way of life…