Cancer can be a lonely battle, even if you’ve gone into remission.
Unless there are other survivors among your family and friends, it can be hard for them to understand what you’re going through — and what a struggle it can be to adjust to life after treatment. They may avoid you or give you too much attention, so a little guidance can set them on the right path to becoming the support you need.
Here are nine ways to keep cancer from coming between you and your community.
1. Decide if and how you’ll answer people’s questions.
The people closest to you will inevitably ask about your cancer and treatment, so decide ahead of time what you’re comfortable talking about. If you don’t want to discuss something specific, it’s OK to say so!
2. Open the line of communication.
Your loved ones may not be sure what to say to you — or if you even want to talk about your experience and recovery — so let them know! Start a conversation or simply tell them you’re not ready to answer their questions yet.
3. Join a support group.
It helps to have people in your corner who know what you’re going through. There are many support groups to choose from, both online and in person when it’s safe.
4. Set expectations with your family members.
If a relative took over when you were too exhausted for certain tasks like cooking or running errands, tell them whether or not you’re ready to jump back in. If you aren’t, that’s fine! What’s important is that you’re both on the same page.
5. Let people help you.
Your family and friends want to help, so let them tackle your grocery shopping, check off some chores, or listen to you vent. Making things easier for you will make them feel better too!
6. Practice patience.
People may say the wrong thing or not know what to say at all. Remember that they’re trying their best and cut them some slack.
7. Let people know if and when you’re ready to see them.
You may be avoiding social gatherings right now because of COVID-19, but you’ll probably want to be included in the future. As always, let your friends know when that time comes.
8. Talk to a professional.
It’s always a good idea to work through your feelings when things get overwhelming. A therapist can help you develop coping techniques and give input on how to share your feelings with loved ones.
9. Focus on the friends who are there for you — and rethink the ones who aren’t.
Cancer has a way of putting things into perspective, especially when it comes to our relationships. If certain people are drifting away, you can let those friendships go. The friends who matter will still be there.
Above all else, remember how strong — and loved — you are! You’ve battled cancer, and the people who care about you are cheering you on!
Share these tips with anyone who can relate.
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