How to take care of myself to support someone?

Cancer is still considered as one of the worst diseases. It is always related to the idea of death, and put the patients and their family in a fragile situation, making difficult to talk about this disease. This is reinforced whenever it is diagnosed lately, limiting the chances of cure and treatment.

Family relationship becomes complicated due to the suffering, forming “communication islands”, that make the stronger ones to talk about heavier matters and the fragile ones to not be exposed to the main information, including the patient him/herself. The secret may have the intention to protect, but it may cause even more suffering, because repress feelings from both sides.

At an institution where cancer is taken care of, the professionals understand that the patients always want an immediate response, but each case is different. Cultural, economic and social determinants never can be ignored, because the lifestyle cannot mean, most of the cases, the patients’ and their family wishes. We see this a lot at INCA, where most of the patients belong to lower classes and came to the hospital physically displaying the social exclusion and the extreme poor condition they have.

Social Work always focused on the family thinking about the social context, analyzing the family conditions and their reality, identifying what can be done accordingly with the social policies regarding the disease. The family needs to be part of the whole patient’s treatment process, and also be assisted by the social work. It is a very delicate phase for both, so everyone needs support, assistance and a greater comprehension of what is and will happen.

Diseases consequences also reach the family structure, showing the need to change the routine and assist to the patient’s needs. This can affect interpersonal relationships, mobilizing positive and negative feelings that need to be understood by the health professionals. The bigger is the disease level, the greater is the dependence the patient has for their family.