Cancer is becoming a greater threat every year, both in the U.S. and around the world. It is expected that nearly 1.7 million cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2013 alone – according to Cancer.org. That means that a lot of people will find themselves suffering through radiation, chemotherapy, and all of the other cancer treatments.
Cancer is something that affects not just your life, but the lives of your entire family as well. Your family is going to have a hard time with your disease, and you may find that “The Big C” puts a strain on your family life. In order to prepare yourselves, you need to understand how it can affect you and your family.
Physical Effects of Cancer
This is probably the greatest effect of cancer. The various cancer treatments can cause quite a lot of pain, and surgeries to remove the tumors can be painful as well. The cancerous growths in your body can also be painful, and you can expect to be in pain often. It’s going to be hard on your family to see you in pain, and don’t be surprised if your family has a hard time being around you during your most painful moments. The feeling of helplessness is often hard to deal with.
Treatment Side Effects —
Both chemotherapy and radiation treatments are very strong, and they come with very powerful side effects. Chemotherapy drugs will cause vomiting, pain, weight loss, hair loss, and fatigue among other symptoms, and radiation can cause skin problems, damaged healthy cells, and weakness. These side effects are strongest after your treatment, but they may persist.
Being sick is just a part of the struggle against cancer. Many people find that they are too weak to get out of bed during stronger treatments, and they suffer from nausea and vomiting during even the milder treatments.
Even if the cancer isn’t in your reproductive organs, treating cancer near that area will run the risk of causing infertility. You may find that you can no longer have children, which can make starting a family hard. (If you’re going in for cancer treatment in the near future, look into a fertility clinic like Fertile Future to find out what your options for starting a family despite your cancer are…)
Reduced Immunity —
The chemotherapy and radiation treatments are very hard on your body, and they totally decimate your immune system. This means that you’re susceptible to pretty much any infection you come in contact with, so you and your family will have to be extra careful to prevent sickness.
Emotional Effects of Cancer
While the physical effects of cancer will affect you the most, it’s the emotional effects that will affect your family the most:
Depression is common among not just cancer patients, but among their families as well. After all, the thought that one of you family members may die can be very depressing, and can cause a downward spiral into depression. This can lead to angry, sullen, or withdrawn family members, particularly teenagers.
Emotional Distance —
When some people see that a family member is going to die or leave them, they start to build up an emotional barrier. This is an effort to reduce the amount of pain that they’ll feel when it actually happens, so don’t be surprised if members of your family start to act distant or cold. It’s just their way of coping, and you need to keep trying to reach them.
Acting Out —
Many small children will start to act out as a means of getting the attention of both the patient and the spouse, as they are feeling insecure. Teenagers will also start to act out, and it’s the result of their sadness at the thought of losing a loved one.
These are just a few emotional effects of cancer, and the truth is that each family member will react differently.