Colon cancer is a difficult cancer to deal with. Obviously, all cancers are a massive challenge, but the statistics for colon cancer are scary and daunting at first glance. It is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined.
As a family facing colon cancer, you will need to make sure that your whole family remember that you are a team. You are on the same side!
Strategize together, understand together, plan together, figure things out together, do whatever you can to stick together, and you will see your family thrive in this difficult time.
Cancer is a Family Disease
The truth is that colon cancer can put a huge strain on your relationships. It is not just about your spouse, it greatly impacts your children, grand children, friends, parents and other relatives.
Caregivers of the patient are often referred to as “co-survivors” and fairly so, their lives are suddenly full of responsibilities and stressors that they haven’t had to deal with before.
Every family is unique, every family has a different way of communicating and copes with different situations, differently. It is important to consider how your family interacts when it faces challenges, both together and as individual members.
The way that your family can move forward in making the most of their time together, is to keep your communication open and honest and work together in helping one another manage stress.
There is a large amount of research that confirms that if a family values vulnerability and shares openly about how they feel during this time, they will grow closer.
Giving room for each other to think and feel freely, will create a sense of safety and closeness in your family that will get you through the mental and emotional hurdles that, unfortunately, will come frequently during the course of treatment.
Regrettably, in some cases, the feelings and responsibilities are too overwhelming for some families, especially couples. The pressure may create new problems or worsen existing problems within a relationship.
Seeking emotional and mental support from a professional during this time can help address these issues and hopefully have a positive impact for the couple and family to be able to see this journey out in the most favorable way possible.
With a colon cancer diagnosis, comes an awareness of mortality that is unavoidable. A sense of urgency becomes present and it can be a rush to “deal” with everything so life can potentially return to normal.
The reality is that life will never be the same. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing! In a lot of cases, it isn’t, because there comes a prioritization for certain aspects of life that you and your family would not have had if not for these circumstances.
Without even consciously doing so, a family can begin to value time together much more. There is a great need to preserve memories and to try to make new ones before it might be too late to do so.
Roles are going to change for everyone. Make sure to allow a time of adjustment for this. It is not easy to have everything you once knew, flipped on its head.
Set yourselves some goals. What are your priorities as a family? Write down ways to achieve these and actively work towards carrying them out.
Dream together and maintain a positive attitude. Help each other to stay strong and focus on what you have right now.
Making sure the kids still attend regular sporting activities, music lessons, going to friend’s homes, and the same for yourself as the main caregiver. Continue to keep as much of your daily routine as possible, and allow yourself and your family the patience and flexibility to adapt as needed.
As you are transitioning into this new normal, there is likely going to be a heavy emphasis on togetherness within this season of life for you and your family. This is great but it is absolutely necessary to foster your own individuality and independence.
This can be especially important with children and teenagers. You do not want your children to feel the weight and responsibility of the situation in a way that it has them compromising themselves beyond what is expected.
It is already difficult and going to impact them in ways that they will feel is unfair. They are likely to react negatively at times, and that is ok.
A healthy respect for each other’s boundaries and allowing room for everyone’s emotions are going to be beneficial for your family. There needs to be compassion and understanding of the different ways that this challenge affects everyone individually.
You are all different and will have different and evolving needs. Finding a balance of time to yourself and making sure you are healthy mentally, emotionally, and physically, will enable you to have the strength and positivity to also focus on the team efforts that are required to keep your family in the best state possible.