A cancer diagnosis is not only devastating to the person with the disease, but it can also have a profound effect on their family members.
From initial diagnosis to the arduous phases of the treatment process, close family will often experience emotional distress and anxiety that they will find difficult to cope with.
This was the situation Kate Thomas from Carnforth found herself in last year when her husband Dave was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer which had advanced into his bones and lymph glands.
“This was a truly devastating blow to us both. As a keen mountaineer Dave had always been the 'fit one' whereas I have rheumatoid arthritis and scoliosis, so it was always him who looked after me. In that awful moment our roles reversed, and I became the carer and support,” said Kate.
Macmillan put Kate and Dave in touch with CancerCare for some extra support and Kate opted for aromatherapy with our practitioner Lorraine Grisedale.
“I was so touched by the fact that my needs were considered, especially as I was not the person actually with cancer and it has meant so much to me to have that hour when I can talk or be quiet, enjoy the caring feeling of the massage in a safe environment that truly nurtures.
“Lorraine is simply wonderful and from the moment you come through the door at Slynedales the feeling of calm and relaxation take you over, no matter how stressed things have been for you, you feel supported and uplifted.”
Unfortunately, many family members choose not to come for therapy as they feel they are undeserving as it is not them who are actually feeling ill. However, positive mental health in a family member is not only good for them but can also make them better able to provide the best support they can to the person in their life that needs it.
“My initial worries that I shouldn't be having the sessions as I wasn't the sick one were dispelled when Lorraine explained just how important my wellness was in looking after my husband. We are truly blessed to be able to have these sessions which are a godsend in these very emotional and stressful times,” said Kate.
Family members represent nearly 60% of the people who seek support at CancerCare.
Lorraine said: “People who are caring for their loved ones who, following a cancer diagnosis and subsequent anti-cancer treatments, are often initially concerned that they may be taking the option of an appointment away from our cancer patients. Reassurance is sometimes needed to put them at ease, that we are here equally for carers and family members who are facing this traumatic period together.”