Depending on the nature and extent of your cancer and treatment, living with cancer can have a dramatic effect on your family life. You may be less active and therefore less able to participate in your usual family routines, and your wife or partner may feel the strain of trying to cope both emotionally and practically. It will take time for children to adjust too and to understand that you can’t always join in with their activities.

The extent of the effect on your family will obviously depend on how well or unwell you are. For example, if you need someone to be with you more or less constantly (not necessarily because you need constant ‘nursing’ care, but rather in case you need extra help at times during the day or night), then you need to work out ways of managing that. Your family might be able to manage this with occasional help from friends and relatives, but if you feel you need more support, your hospital or GP can put you in touch with organizations such as Marie Curie Cancer Care or Macmillan nurses, which can organize extra care at home. There is no charge to a patient or their family for this specialist nursing care (although many people feel motivated to support their work by means of a charitable donation).

The best ways of coping tend to evolve over time. You all need to be flexible, and to accept that while you want to preserve as much normality as possible, there will be times when plans go awry. Perhaps a planned day out can’t go ahead because you feel too unwell, causing disappointment to your children. You may feel frustrated and even guilty that your cancer is such a dominant factor in your lives. It is hard, and the desire to avoid disappointing others is strong, but looking after yourself has to remain your top priority.


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