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Detect cancer in a loved one: coping strategies

Detect cancer in a loved one: coping strategies

June 10, 2024

Cancer, a word that shrinks the stomach , overwhelms and disposes the person diagnosed and their environment to a situation of vulnerability.

It is not for less, since according to WHO data, cancer is one of the main causes of morbidity and mortality in the world. In 2012, around 14 million new cases were registered and the number of new cases is expected to increase by approximately 70% in the next 20 years.

Given this global data, what can be done? Maybe only to wait for a supposed and growing scientific advance and an improvement of clinical care. But what happens when cancer ceases to be an abstract fear that affects society to materialize in a particular fear that affects a person present in one's own life? What happens when someone in your circle is diagnosed with cancer?


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When cancer appears in loved ones: ways of coping

We know that there are many types of cancer, depending on the organs affected, the stage in which you are and the particular situation of each patient. Even so, it seems that there is a common fear that occurs before the diagnosis: the fear of the patient's suffering and the fear of death .

Of this fear, and like most fears, others hang, linking concerns that must be addressed, to minimize the impact they may have both on the psyche itself and on the family and social group in which they live.


Each human being is endowed with the ability to face the difficulties . There are individual differences at the time of managing painful situations but there are also resources and strategies that can be useful for many people.

In this line, below are some actions that can help any adult to adapt to the situation of cancer diagnosis of a loved one.

1. Give yourself permission for reaction and emotional expression

Imagine: they inform you that a person you love has cancer. The news falls like a shower of cold water, but you must continue your day-to-day responsibilities, probably at a fast and efficient pace. Even so, it is necessary to find a space for the emotional integration of the news, allowing space to connect with the emotions that this generates.

The sadness, anger, frustration, anger ... they are emotions that are socially considered negative but even so, denying them does not make things easier , the opposite. Give yourself permission to feel and express them.


Maybe we have to make an effort to give a space to the emotions that invade you. How? Finding your way of expression will be the first exercise. There are people who live their emotions alone, finding a silent space to cry, breathe deeply or scream. Others use a newspaper to express their emotions freely.

If loneliness is not a comforting space for you, connect with people you trust to express yourself and put words to your emotional knots. It is known that the fact of verbalize emotions , it already has an important therapeutic effect.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Fear of dying: 3 strategies to manage it"

2. If emotions flood, look for the reflote

Although you have to leave space to connect with emotions, also we must attend to the danger that these reach maladaptive levels for the balance itself.

That is to say, sadness or anger may appear , but if they are kept for long periods of intense and affect for example the quality of sleep, eating patterns or affective relationships, we must seek help.

In situations in which emotions seem to flood life, it is no braver who intends to swim only by swallowing water, but who is able to find the board to refloat.

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3. I do not have medical training and I do not understand anything, what do I do?

Before the diagnosis of cancer many doubts arise related to medical concepts with which sometimes you are not familiar. We currently have access to information quickly, which is not always good.

It is possible that before medical reports emerge the urgent need to know more, so we end up immersed in the Internet reading things that perhaps, far from reassuring us, still further exacerbate our fears .

Given this, perhaps it is better to stop looking on our own and write down in a notebook the doubts and questions related to the disease and contrast it with the medical team that takes the case.We must remember that each person and each process has its characteristics and therefore, it is better to be informed of the particular situation.

  • Related article: "Digital hypochondriacs: the danger of using the Internet to self-diagnose"

4. Follow the day to day, the world does not stop

Although it seems that the world has stopped, the day to day must continue, regardless of whether the forecast is more or less favorable . It may seem insensitive, but it is for the good of the sick person and their environment. You have to make an effort so that cancer is not the protagonist, and open spaces and moments where you can relax, as much as possible, and find small things that generate well-being.

In this sense, it is not necessary to make a list of "things to do before dying" and make them, but maybe the art of valuing small things and enriching everyday life is more important : give and water an aromatic plant, play, walk, remember good times, cook, see the sea, look at photographs, movies, listen to music ...

It is possible that there is demotivation, lack of appetite or difficulty to undertake some activities. If this happens, we can base the actions on a simple and very powerful objective: laugh. Laughter is involved in the generation of opiates (natural substances secreted by the brain to deal with pain) and is one of the most powerful tools.

Tell jokes, anecdotes, stories, or laugh, even if not wanting, to get the authentic laugh and even infect it. You have to prove it, few things are as grateful as human laughter. Find a way to make a person who suffers laugh It may be one of the most powerful actions you can do right now.

If the severity of the disease hinders movement or complex cognitive activities, we base the action by understanding this concept: the nutritional company. In that sense, accompany without forcing, only allowing the person with cancer to feel accompanied, both to express their emotions, ask questions, contrast opinions or share the silence.

Bibliographic references:

  • Kleihues, P., & Cavenee, W. (2000). World Health Organization classification of tumours. Pathology and genetics of tumours of the nervous system. IARC, Lyon.
  • Jaimes, J., Claro, A., Perea, S., & Jaimes, E. (2011). Laughter, an essential complement in the recovery of the patient. Med UIS, 24, 1-6.

How to cope with a cancer diagnosis (June 2024).


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