If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer, then you know that there is a roller coaster of emotions that can occur. Some patients simply go in for a yearly mammogram, while others find something concerning while doing a self-exam, and this is where it starts. There’s worry, anxiety, and fear as you wait for results. There’s depression, pain, and exhaustion during treatment, and then for many people, there is a place of healing, although it doesn’t come for everyone. As a family caregiver, helping your loved one towards this place of healing is always a goal. But, when does that start, what does that look like, and how can you help? For this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’ve put together a guide to help you in your journey to help heal the whole person.
There’s always an emotional element to each story of healing, which often begins before there is even a diagnosis. It starts when the patient has an opportunity to truly feel all of the feelings they are feeling. This includes truly allowing themselves to embrace being upset, being mad, and deciding that they’re going to do something about it. In order to heal, one has to believe that they can heal. In order to be emotionally ready for the fight ahead, one has to want to fight, and if you think about it, there isn’t a fight in this world that we would engage in if we didn’t have a valid reason.
This reason can be anger that this disease is affecting one’s life, or a desire to protect oneself and their loved ones from a possible life without them, but at the end of the day, we have to embrace the emotion and allow ourself to truly feel it. This is where emotional healing starts, with acceptance and a will to do something about it. We need to give ourself permission to feel – whether we feel ashamed and weak for a moment, or feel angry and bitter, as the person going through it, let it wash over you.
As family caregivers, the best thing that we can do as well, is give ourselves permission to be emotional. Choose to ride the roller coaster. There will be times that you’ll want to lend your strength to your loved one, and there will be times when you get angry with them. Communicate, and let your loved one know that you support them, and you feel what they’re feeling, and you’re there to help.
Let’s face it, when there is a diagnosis that comes, it isn’t like there are a bunch of people you know that have gone through the same thing. Sometimes there are entire families that go through similar medical issues, but most of the time this isn’t the case, and each case is unique. This means that even if your mother and grandmother went through breast cancer, you may be diagnosed with a different type, or have a different journey for healing, especially with medical advancements.
If you or your loved one is a minority, especially, you may feel very alone in your diagnosis. In a blog called, “Living Beyond Breast Cancer” by Shangrong Lee, she describes dealing with breast cancer as a minority. Having no family that had gone through anything similar and coming from a culture that didn’t share these experiences often, she felt more supported when she was able to find someone who understood her cultural background that was able to support her.
Regardless of where you or your loved one find it, support is imperative to healing. Just the knowledge that there are others out there who have survived, provides hope. Support also helps those who are trying to recover have more resources and knowledge when it comes to talking about treatment options with doctors and specialists. In the end, support from a community, whether it is online or in person, allows you or your loved one to not feel alone.
When it comes to caregiving, this support is also imperative. As the people who provide care, we need to be in a place where we’re also supported and understood for our own struggles and unique emotional needs. This includes getting much-needed breaks so that we can have time to heal our own emotions and come back to the people we care for with a whole heart and a whole mind. Homewatch CareGivers of Ellicott City provides unique support to those diagnosed with cancer, as well as respite care for family caregivers. This type of care allows caregivers a moment to themselves. Often times, just the simple act of having a burden lifted gives caregivers that simple relief that they need in order to be there for their loved one when they need to be. For example, letting someone else pick up the groceries or prescriptions means that you don’t have to rush from work to the pharmacy or grocery store and miss out on anything along the way.
Healing with Diet and Exercise
Have you ever wondered why there are so many walks and runs when it comes to charity for breast cancer? There is an amazing release of endorphins that allows our bodies to help balance and regulate the hormones we use to feel more mentally healthy when we exercise. Many cancer patients find relief, which includes stress relief, emotional relief, and even physical relief when they are able to add light exercise such as yoga, walking, swimming, and more to their healing routine.
Adding a healthy diet to the daily exercise that both patient and caregiver receive during their healing journey can provide you both with a new lease on life. Don’t forget that while your loved one may feel alone, they aren’t, you’re there with them, and your health is just as important.
Don’t forget that Homewatch CareGivers of Ellicott City is here for you. It is always a privilege to provide our clients with compassionate and professional assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you have more questions or keep browsing our website for more information.