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Create a lung cancer support team

Cancer is a journey that can be more difficult when taken alone. If you're the one living with lung cancer—even if you feel alone—remember, there are people who care about you. Ask them for their support. Then you may be able to watch those moments of feeling helpless turn into moments of feeling helped.

 

People want to help. Let them.

Often loved ones stand back and wait for direction from you about how to help.

Allowing them to help you may not be as hard as you think. Maybe you don't want to talk about it, and that's okay. Maybe you have been independent for so long that you feel embarrassed to ask for help. Try these 3 simple steps to get your support team in place:

  1. Acknowledge the challenges you're facing.
  2. Ask for the help you need.
  3. Receive the support with gratitude.
 

Help the ones helping you. They need some TLC, too.

Yes, you need the help of others, maybe more now than at any other time in your life. But the people you love and depend on need your help, too. And only you can give them what they need most: Help understanding your needs. Help accepting their limitations. Help dealing with anger or frustration. Maybe you have children or grandchildren who are frightened by your illness and need to know that you will be there for them, as much and as long as you can. Tell them. This isn't just your loved ones' moment to shine. In a very real way, it's yours, too.

 

Understand that cancer will change things. Expect both good and bad.

Dealing with cancer can produce both tender and tense moments. One day you could be feeling harmony with everyone, and the next you're feeling strained. This pattern is common and understandable. Look to the following tips to help you, your friends, family, and caregivers help manage the changing tides when dealing with cancer:

  1. Recognize that roles and routines for everyone can change and some people respond to change better than others.
  2. Know that even while relationships become strained, they can also be strengthened.
  3. Remember that obstacles are also opportunities to demonstrate who you are and what you can accomplish.
  4. Prepare for how you might handle the potential for strained finances. There is information on this topic from experts and from those who've experienced similar situations. To find it, look online or ask a lung cancer advocate who deals with these issues every day to guide you to this information.
  5. Remember: how someone handled stress in the past may indicate how they'll handle it in the future; it's better if you don't expect a different reaction to stress.
  6. Establish strong communication wherever possible.
  7. Ask for help when you need it, as you need it; reach out to friends, family, neighbors, volunteers, and aides. You can even reach out to lung cancer advocacy groups and learn where the local support group is in your area.
  8. Know that help can come in the simplest of forms: someone keeping you company, giving a reassuring hug, holding your loved one's hand, listening to each other's hopes and fears, helping with transportation, creating or delivering meals, doing errands or chores. There are also lung cancer organizations that offer services like free house cleaning and free transportation to help people with cancer.

Could an advocacy group help you or your loved one?

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There's a large community out there dedicated to helping cancer patients

In addition to family, friends, and caregivers, there are resources out there offering help for patients with lung cancer.

Not sure what support system you should use? Consider what support suits you best.

  • Would you like to be connected to support person-to-person, on the phone, or online?
  • Would you prefer a formal or more social, informal setting?
  • Would you want it to have a spiritual foundation?
  • Would you want individual or group counseling?
  • Would you prefer your support team to include your spouse, family, or friends?

You may also find some helpful information here.

There are a wide variety of cancer support organizations. Some focus on specific cancers, others focus on the stage of cancer. These support organizations offer you options on a national, regional, and local level. If you choose a support group that has a leader, make sure you feel comfortable with that leader.

Some people prefer the support of online communities. When blogging online, you can interact with people in similar situations, 24/7, without leaving your home. Websites like Inspire have highly engaged patients and caregivers discussing many health topics.

What to expect from support groups

What type of support can you receive through support groups? Sometimes, it's learning from others what to expect. Sometimes, it's finding out about the coping methods others have used to help manage their emotions and experience. And sometimes it's about making friends and learning new ways to enjoy each day.

Beyond emotional support

Getting the support you need isn't limited to emotional support. You may find you also need:

  • Home Health Nursing Services— perhaps your illness or treatments have sidelined you, preventing you from making a meal or even getting out of bed. This support could help
  • Social Services— such as individual counseling or financial aid
  • Nutrition Services— you can get nutritionally balanced meals delivered to your home or talk with a registered dietitian
  • Rehabilitation Services— physical and occupational therapists can work with you to help get you mobile again

 

Support is what you make it

Glenn was living alone when he found out that he had lung cancer. But he refused to let that isolate him. He reached out to his loved ones who lived far away and soon messages of love and support began to pour in. He taped all of those encouraging words to his apartment wall. He called it his "Wall of Love." Thanks in part to that collage of care, Glenn was able to face the difficulties in his journey.

 

The financial component of cancer can be a challenge. But it should never get in the way of the treatments you need. Empower the ones you love with financial guidance.

NEXT: Financial Help for Cancer Patients

 
 

Could an advocacy group help you or your loved one?

Find out >

Keep a journal as part of your journey.

Write it out >

Get updates on new developments.

Sign up now >