- Question from Website Question: As a cancer patient, I'd appreciate some suggestions about how I can realistically help my husband and (grown) kids cope with the anxiety and frustration they feel as my treatment drags on and on, and how to help them get their lives back to some form of "new normal," too. I can't fake optimism all the time, but I'd like to do something to help them feel better.
Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W.
An interesting question. What strikes me here is that you, who have so much on your plate, are concerned about taking care of your family. This may be a time where it would be beneficial to have an open exchange between all of you to figure out how you can each take care of each other. It's always the woman who takes care of the family. Right now, you need to take care of yourself.
It's too much of a burden to think that you have to adopt a public, positive attitude on how to help your family. You can't take their anxiety away. They have their anxiety, you have yours, and you all need to be open with each other about how you can help each other. It's not realistic for you to pretend to be optimistic all the time, and it's not good for your family. They all have to be open and honest about their feelings.
- Marc Silver Having lived through a year of treatment with my wife, I would have to agree with Roz. There's a very interesting study about breast cancer patients and optimism by Karen Weihs, and she found that patients who complained and didn't keep their negative feelings inside and let them out coped better with the stress of treatment. So that's something for husbands to keep in mind when their wives want to complain. Let them complain! Also, it's really okay for husbands and kids to cope with their feelings of anxiety and frustration by doing something for themselves. I think husbands need to ask permission from their wives before they take off for several hours, but it's important to go bike riding or shoot baskets and recharge a little bit.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Family and Loved Ones featured Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W., author Marc Silver, and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about the issues surrounding family members and caregivers living with and caring for women affected by breast cancer.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in September 2004.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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