Cancer Family Support Group Initiative By CFC

Working on the models of cancer family support groups mostly found in the western world, CFC  recently formed such a support group to help cancer patients. This article lists the experience of one of the members of CFC who volunteered to be a a part of this initiative by actually visiting the oncology department of a local hospital. Given below is her real life experience in her own words.

My Experience

I had heard that even though cancer family support groups are very common in the western world, it is not commonly found in this part of the globe, especially in my region. Hence I was excited to be a part of this noble initiative and I made my first hospital visit yesterday. The patient that I visited is a young lady who has just been through a surgery for breast cancer in Christian Memorial Hospital, one of the oldest and a well known name amongst hospitals in the northern region. In this article I am going to try to share my experience and observations of the visit.

Cancer is a dreaded word and I experienced this one more time last evening. There are so many myths and apprehensions that are attached with this disease, its treatment and life after that. It becomes extremely difficult to keep a strong and a positive outlook. At the first stage, the challenges of treatment are many and at the second stage coping with the fear of cancer and living with it is a major challenge.

Support Groups

Support Groups

I am writing down my observations from yesterdays visit. The idea is to document as much as possible so that the efforts of the support group can be well directed.

I am not a priority

Today we have been able to reach a level of awareness where every lady knows and understands that a lump in her breast is not something good. She also knows that she should be reaching the hospital as soon as possible and go through some tests in order to determine what that lump is. A major drawback of our social and family system is that the lady of house ends up being the least important person. Her husband, her children all are a priority but not herself. A lady who thinks that she does not want to disturb her family, or how her children will manage while she is in the hospital forgets that a week of absence is better than being absent all together.

Cancer spells fear, risk

The moment the word cancer steps into a person’s life, he is numbed. His power to think rationally freezes at least for some while. Even if a person is able to handle the initial shock, at some point or the other fear overpowers. Cancer spells risk to us and more vulnerable we feel towards the risk the scarier it seems. It was important to tell people that cancer does spell death in all cases. Worry, anger, panic, helplessness this disease can introduce one to all possible negative emotions. Unluckily, the systems that a common man has to work in go a long way in reaffirming the fears and negative emotions rather than dispelling the same.

Cancer affects families

Yesterday, I did not visit a patient but I visited a family. Not only the patient but the entire family was in a state of fear and to a great extent unable to understand what is happening around them. I spent time with the daughters of the patient. On pursuing them a little, the elder one opened up and asked me a few questions or rather expressed her apprehensions. The younger daughter around 10 years of age did not open up at all. She refused to even smile. The lady was taken for a dressing and she was so apprehensive and restless till her mother did not reappear. I wonder should a young soul feel so burdened!!

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Cancer carries a stigma

A shocking realization for me, but true cancer even in today’s time carries a stigma with it. I have been so lucky to be kept away from feeling this way during my treatment, but I understand it may not be the case with everyone. Cancer patients may be subjected to negative attitudes and discrimination. I may be wrong but the girls were apprehensive about the stigma.

Cancer Family Support Groups

Cancer Family Support Groups

The husband of the lady had so much to express. There were so many questions that the patient had to ask. I was able to answer most of them for the rest I have promised to get back to her with the answers. Since I was expected to say something to the patient and the family what I said was ‘Have faith in three – the almighty, your doctors and your family’

It would be appropriate to share a verse from the bible here –

Isaiah 43:2 #5

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.”

Remember, God carries us through troubled times, He never burdens you more than you can carry, even this might not sound easy during the turbulent times.

At the end of the day I felt elated to be a part of cancer family support group and to be able to do something for the family.

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  • meetunayyar
  • A lawyer by profession, social worker and a fighter against cancer