Acceptance is demarcated in a few assorted variations. One being favorable reception; approval. Another being the fact or state of something being acceptable. When it comes to family members coping with a loved one’s cancer diagnosis, acceptance from family members may be one of the most difficult things to do. No one wants to believe or accept that his or her loved one is ill and a coping mechanism is non-acceptance, while rejecting the notion of the illness is much simpler than the alternative.
With a cancer diagnosis, particularly with a family member, comes many feelings; shock, disbelief, fear, guilt, sadness. It goes without saying that no one is ever prepared to learn that their loved one, whether it be their child, mother, father, brother or sister, has a life-threatening disease. Combatting the acknowledgment of the illness is only a buffer to delaying painful feelings. Often, with the denial factor of conceding the cancer derives from feelings of lack of control, as trusting someone else with a family member’s life is fear provoking.
Through much research, I have come across many articles, which showcase that non-acceptance of a family member’s diagnosis is not uncommon. In fact, it is relatively more common than the substitute of the family accepting the diagnosis right off the bat. Particularly in parents, acceptance takes greater length of time. Parents often blame themselves for their child’s cancer, with feelings of preferring to have the cancer themselves, rather than their child. With this comes many questions, “why?”, “what could I have done differently as a parent?”, “why me, why us?”, “why my daughter or son?”. The first part of accepting a loved one’s prognosis, specifically a child, is accepting that there may never be an answer to the questions of what caused the cancer and why. Secondly, finding a reason as to why this happened isn’t necessarily going to change the fact that it happened and the outcome.
Many family members find themselves feeling isolated emotionally and find it difficult to properly emote. The good news is, you are not alone. There happens to be a slew of ways to learn to accept the diagnosis of a family member and ways to ensure that the dive into reality takes place in a copasetic fashion. First and foremost, don’t be afraid to express your feelings, talking to other family members and/or the person who has been diagnosed in an open dialogue may serve as great therapy to know that you are not alone and as a family unit, you will all work through the unbearable news. Don’t shy away from a good cry session. Crying is known to psychologically give your feelings a good airing and is thought to be a healthy tonic. Additionally, the use of a support group for family members and parents of cancer patients is a bountiful form of beneficial healing and often allows the family members to feel like a part of a community and more connected to the in’s and out’s of the disease itself.
Once the family member lets go of the anger, guilt and other innumerable emotions that come along with the territory, the shifted energy may be used to help themselves, their family and their loved one battling the grave disease. Face forward with your beloved and know that they appreciate having you as a part of their unshakable support system. Know that the person with the cancer recognizes that people compartmentalize things differently and while some family members accept the news and take charge, others may take time to come around to the new normal. Don’t go at it alone, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and identify that your acceptance towards to the cancer will mean the world to the patient, even if it takes a while to arrive there.
This post is dedicated to one of my favorite people in the whole world, you know who you are. Know that you are not alone, and I know that you are always here for me no matter the situation. I love you to the moon and back. x
***If you or someone you know is having trouble accepting a family member’s diagnosis, please check out the below resources:
Online Support Group:
ACS (American Cancer Society) has an online site called the Cancer Survivors Network that family members can join. Another option is the Association of Cancer Online Resources.
Local Support Groups:
The National Cancer Institute offers a searchable site to look for cancer support groups and organizations for family members. ACS provides links to similar resources.