Helping your family/whānau adjust

Cancer is difficult for everyone it affects. Your family/whānau needs to adjust to the diagnosis too. As you express your feelings, remember that family/whānau members may deal with their feelings in a different way. Your family/whānau may experience similar fears and anxieties, and need as much information, support and advice as you.

Family/whānau members might express their own reactions to the diagnosis, and what you’re going through. They may feel helpless at their inability to do anything about the disease. They may also worry about how your cancer will change their lives. 

“Some of my friends and family found it hard to talk openly to me about my cancer. With time, they were able to open up slowly and in their own way.” Harry

How your family/whānau communicates about your cancer may depend on how they have always spoken to each other. Families who frequently share their feelings may be better able to talk about cancer and the changes it brings. Some families are more private or have one person who plays the major role in decision-making. If your family/whānau has difficulty talking about cancer, it may help to speak to a counsellor or other health professional. If family/whānau members don’t wish to discuss the cancer diagnosis, they may find going with you to the doctor or treatment centre helps them to understand your illness.

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