“Experiencing someone close to you being diagnosed with cancer – whether it’s your partner, parent or child – is incredibly challenging’ says Dr Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services at AXA PPP healthcare. ‘Not only do you have to deal with the diagnosis itself, you have to face practical challenges such as financial pressures and frequent hospital appointments while juggling everyday life.
Carers feel that they need to keep going and be strong for the loved one diagnosed but this can take its toll in different ways – both mental and physical. It’s little wonder then that, for some, this results in feelings of anger and resentment, which can in turn lead to feelings of guilt and undermine people’s self-esteem.”
It’s estimated that one in two people in the UK will get cancer during their lifetime, and based on the current UK population this means that more than 30 million people could be carers or supporting someone with cancer at some stage during their lives. As the UK population continues to age, these numbers are likely to increase, with cancer impacting on the lives of more and more people in the UK beyond those diagnosed.
Advice for loved ones
Cancer Care Operations Manager, Nurse Evelyn Wallace, who heads AXA PPP healthcare’s team of Dedicated Nurses, has the following advice for loved ones of people diagnosed with cancer:
- Talk to someone about how you’re feeling about what you’re going through – whether it’s a family member, a friend or healthcare professional, such as a doctor or counsellor. Sharing your feelings and concerns can help you to see a bit more clearly and work out solutions.
- Try to set aside some time for yourself every week – you might go to see a film, for example, or go to the gym for a work-out or just curl up with a good book.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from those around you – from family and friends to neighbours and workmates.
- Use the support resources available to you, whether they’re through the NHS, charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support or services such as AXA PPP healthcare’s Dedicated Cancer Nurses, whom members diagnosed with cancer and their families can call any time, day or night.
*Cancer Research UK (2015). 1 in 2 people in the UK will get cancer.