Family member and friend of a cancer patient – take care of yourself
Family and friends play often a crucial role in the life of cancer patients. Cancer affects deeply also the family and friends of the patient.
Family members and friends of cancer patients must remember to mind their own health. They may need support, as well. If you feel that you need support to be able to cope with your everyday life, talk about this with the treatment personnel, with your occupational health service or a nurse or physician at your municipal health care center. The web page All about cancer by the Cancer Society of Finland provides some advice to relatives and friends of cancer patients.
The organization Mental Health Finland runs a national crisis telephone service at number 010 195 2202. This number provides immediate and confidential support to persons in crisis, their friends and family. The regional cancer societies and national patient organizations offer support, rehabilitation and advice also to family members and friends of cancer patients.
You are welcome to attend treatment sessions with the patient, if this is what the patient would like. Hospital chaplains in the hospital districts of SouthWest Finland, Satakunta (in Finnish) and Vaasa are at your service to support you and to discuss with you. You may get together with the hospital chaplain for discussions in the presence or absence of the patient. As the spouse of the patient you are welcome to attend jointly the consultations of a sexual counselor and psychiatric nurse.
Peer groups help family and friends to manage
When someone close of kin gets cancer, peer support may prove helpful. In a peer support group, you will get advice and support and you will meet other people in the same situation as yourself. You will be able to talk openly about your feelings, fears and hopes for the future.
Visiting cancer patients
Visits to the cancer patient are important for the patient and his/her family and friends. It is important that you have enough quality time to spend with the cancer patient.
What am I to do if my beloved one dies?
A tragic fact is that cancer cannot always be cured. The patient and his/her family members and friends are not abandoned even if the course of illness can no longer be changed for the better. Read the guide on end of life care (PDF, in Finnish). There is also information about end of life care on the web pages of cancer organizations.