Parents and Family of Cancer Sufferers

Cancer represents an impact not only for the individual but also for the environment. Even when the patient is the one who receives the physical consequences of this disease and its treatment, the psycho-social impact on the entire family. How does cancer impact on the family and social environment of the patient? We can say that the loved ones of cancer patients suffer in the same areas as the patient:

Psychological aspects

Studies show that the prevalence of emotional disorders (mainly anxiety and depression) is the same in relatives of patients than in those affected. That is why the family is often referred patient ‘second order’, because even when it is not physically sick, it does risk of mood disorders. In addition, peer pressure is unable to vent their suffering. It’s supposed to be ‘strong’ and endure the painful situation of having a family member with cancer and not able to show discomfort. So from FEFOC claim the psychological support for the patient’s family or caregiver, a space to vent, to provide better patient care and support. Assess your emotional state and receive a comment. You may need help but have noticed or seems selfish for thinking that, when the patient is the one who needs all the care. Yes, but you also may need it, and do not forget, if you are better, you can take care of him better.

Social aspects

Many families feel isolated because of unpleasant experiences. Social isolation is relatively common in patients with cancer and that it happens in their families. The disease ‘spend’ their energies on addressing the new needs created by the disease and the treatment. While cancer remains taboo in the population and many people do not know how to treat a friend who has been diagnosed with cancer. The doubts about how to act, what is appropriate to ask or do not do that, sometimes, is chosen to avoid contact with the affected family. While this sometimes reduces the frequency of sex for their special status, by anger or embarrassment or simply because they prefer not to talk about it. Should clarify this issue because, sometimes, all due to misunderstandings or misconceptions that a conversation can be undone. Do not assume that others have given back, when confidence to do it, you start the conversation about your sick loved. Consult a health professional if you do not know how, or with our psychology department through our office .

Socioeconomic aspects

In some countries the disease may be a risk of losing their jobs or being forced to reduce employment status and / or salary. Caregivers who are repeatedly absent from their jobs due to the needs generated by a cancer patient. In our environment, this is rare, although some patients have encountered some form of employment discrimination. In case of problems in this regard, you should consult with an attorney, you better informed about their rights.


Family functioning

Cancer often does is activate the resources already available to the family. Not always the illness changes family relationships, but the household is facing the situation the way it functions as usual, perhaps doing more patents roles or relationships that existed under the hood. For example, the strongest person emotionally does not have to be a father or a mother, may be the eldest son or brother. Often children are surprised a sick father’s attitude of defeat or lack of energy to the mother’s illness. Or, on the contrary, there are parents who take the initiative and are deciding according to their own will. It is therefore difficult to give explicit guidelines for behaviour, speaking of a group, which is the sum of its individuals, plus the interrelationships between them. In psychology it is estimated more useful as trying to adapt to each other, for trying to impose alien ways of doing things, the result is an artificial attitude, and a lack of resources in unexpected situations.

General Tips

  1. Family is important, but the patient is the protagonist of the situation and, in fact, is who bears the fear of death, the threat to their integrity …. why the environment must adapt to it. Avoid imposing fun activities, tasty meals supposedly, participate in social events … especially at first, and then if a relapse occurs. Many sufferers are closed in themselves, but often this is temporary. If one year after diagnosis this persists, consult a health professional or try gently talk to the patient.
  2. Do not press the patient to have a lively and positive attitude. It can be harmful for him / her feel obliged to show feel a joy not and instead, vent, mourn, show anger, can help to start their retrofitting. If this negative attitude is established as a routine, it’s time to see a specialist, but not before it has passed the first treatments.
  3. Think about how your loved one was before cancer. Try to see the logic of their reactions and actions at this time, to see if they agree with their way of being normal. This will help you not take things to the extreme and anxious thinking that everything has changed, nothing is as before, or he or she will never be the / the same. Surely it is the same person but under the understandable fear and distress.
  4. Ask yourself as Stressful situations have faced together in the past. This will help you make determinations or feel more confident that this also can be overcome.
  5. If you are unsure of what to do try not to make decisions yourself. This refers to choosing other treatments or to surrender. If you do not take chances pose different editions hasty and try to see under a prism quiet and always thinking about what is best for the patient. Should it be part of those decisions speak calmly and ask if they feel necessary one second or third opinion
  6. Help your family sick to see the reactions of others under a prism as objective as possible. You may feel observed or looked differently by their friends or colleagues. Help him to see if that is true or is he or is very susceptible to the reactions of others. The taboo of cancer affects everyone.


Communication is a big issue when it comes to cancer and family. The communication between the patient and other family members and even among these, may be affected as a result of a cancer diagnosis. Although this varies by type and severity of cancer, there are aspects that are general. There are families of ‘open’ and families ‘behind closed doors’. While this is broadly, can help us to analyze the type of family to which we belong:

  1. Families open: all talk and share. Feelings, emotions, disappointments, joys, sorrows ….. The advantage is that you feel supported and loved his stuff and really anyone interested. The disadvantage is that ‘no intimacy’. One can hardly do anything without others knowing, or one can be sad or angry about something secret. Everyone will notice and everyone will say in the matter.
  2. Families closed doors: the most intimate and personal of each family member are not shared, or at least not fully. These are people who want but are independent of each other. The advantage is that you feel you have their privacy and act without pressure or bonds, but the disadvantage is that, often, there is not much to the other if necessary.

These types of families are started before the cancer of one of its members. Families may come open in secrecy, who find it difficult to tolerate, and closed doors, however, can be very intense emotional situations they do not know how to face.

Verbal and nonverbal

Human communication is very complex and not only related to spoken language. The tone of voice and gestures that accompany our words have meaning. The perception of what others say, and vice versa, thus depends much on the big picture, the message and the accompanying signs. So it is not uncommon for some patients regret the attitude of your partner or family when trying to express their fears about the disease. Given the typical defense of themselves doing the family: ‘I tell you that story can speak like!’, Many patients say: ‘yes, but I see that has not really want to talk about this.’ Sometimes they are perceptions of the patient, but the family has made other (unintentionally) some gesture or posture of line with what he says (continue reading or watching TV while they were supposed to speak ….).

It is therefore important that, before you talk to a misunderstanding as soon as possible to clarify them. If the couple looks very difficult to do, you can go to a trained professional to help her start a conversation that can help a lot. FEFOC has a support group aimed at families of cancer patients to help them in their difficult task of caring without space for own anxiety or discomfort. Ask information. Do not wait to be on the verge of stress or anxiety, seek help as soon as possible, the sooner you can recognize their own signs of depression or fatigue and will support it.