Everyone needs a little support now and then, but when you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, a deadly illness that comes with a stigma, emotional support is essential. Even after living with lung cancer for a while, most of us are going to need support from time to time - from friends, family, and our medical team, at the minimum.
Our medical teams’ primary support role is with treatment and information. I know that I am always acutely aware when I meet with my oncologists that they have many other patients to see that day, and that their job is to cover all of the medical information I need to know, and and to answer my medical questions. These appointments are not the best time and place for me to address the emotional side of this experience.
For emotional support, I reach out first to family and friends. There are some potential issues, however, that I have become more aware of over time. When I look at my conversations and social media communication, I have to admit that at times I am obsessed with lung cancer. It’s a lot to ask any friend to listen to my most recent gem of insight or the latest research finding over and over. Sooner or later our conversations with friends have to allow space for other topics. The same goes for family. Conversations with those who love us also need to be mindful that your medical situation is hard for them to deal with emotionally as well. Everyone is aware of the potential for pain and loss, and denial is an easy way out of dealing with negative emotions. Your beloved family members may have a hard time with your most difficult thoughts and feelings.
It’s safe to say that we all joined the Free to Breathe community for support. There is a bond between fellow lung cancer patients that is strong and immediate. We know what each other is going through, and we don’t get tired of talking with each other about symptom management, treatment choices, and medical advances. I recommend seeking out an online support community to every cancer patient I meet, especially to the newly diagnosed. As much as we care for each other, however, sometimes we need to talk to another person more directly. The computer screen is both a window allowing us to connect with others and a wall that keeps us from deep person-to-person contact.
Do you have anyone you can talk to about the really deep down dark stuff - your fears, your anger, the thoughts that seem unacceptable in polite social conversation?
Photo credit: Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain image from Pixabay