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How to support a Cancer patient?

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Providing Support for a Cancer Patient

When moustaches and November come together, then it can only mean one thing: Movember. The portmanteau term has really taken off in the UK and elsewhere around the world as a means of fundraising for organisations surrounding the treatment of cancer and carers affected by it.

The Guiding Principles of Movember When it began, the driving principle behind Movember was to find a way of getting people talking about cancer, something that like other diseases can be unspoken of in certain circles. Especially by focussing their efforts on a manly pursuit – growing a moustache – the original team were able to get a group that was particularly poor at communicating health issues. A lofty ambition, the Movember Foundations has made great strides in its initial mission – to change the face of men’s health.

The Importance of Movember

The fact is that Movember’s visual impact of a changing face is a key part of its success. Growing whiskers naturally leads to people being curious as to the reasons for it. Then, people can have an exchange about why Movember is important and how cancer may have impacted on people in the past. Some do it because they have suffered from cancer in the past, some because a loved one or a friend has.

For others, it is just a good opportunity to do something positive when the negativity of the disease can mean the outlook seems bleak. Whatever the reasons are, Movember allows people to come together, to feel a certain unity and to raise a smile with one another and what could be better than that?

Diagnosis & Tests

It is most often the GP or the Urology Department that can detect the early signs of potential cancer in men. Men’s signs and symptoms are generally not as often talked about at women. For example, there is no screening programme for men with regards to prostate cancer.

It is usually up to the man to ask for what is known as a PSA test unless he happens to present the known symptoms to a GP – under that circumstance a doctor should decide to investigate further. It is a good idea to encourage your partner, friend or family member to consider screening, especially if they have symptoms or a relevant family history.

Some practical tips for helping yourself or others to cope:

1. Understand the nature of the treatment plan.

2.Plan your schedule around the patient.

3.Offer something as simple as a lift to and from the hospital.

4.Help by taking time to understand the patient’s drug dosages and any potential side effects.

5.Communicate about how the treatment is going.

6.Encourage the documentation of important questions, thoughts and stories.

7.Speaking to a counsellor who can offer support at an early stage and who help you more than you initially reckon.

8.Talk about death. It is an important part of any grieving process.

Emotional and Physical Needs:

As both testicular cancer and prostate cancers occur in a sensitive area of the body, your loved one may experience anxiety, sadness and a degree of anger. Maintaining a positive relationship with your loved one is essential to assist them in dealing with the emotional toll of these diseases.

Understanding the side effects of treatments:

Side effects vary depending on what specific treatment might be offered. As an example, here are a few side effects of common treatments for Testicular cancer.

1.A lump may appear on a testicle. Although such a lump is often painless, it can be uncomfortable.

2.Enlargement of a testicle.

3. A feeling of heaviness or aching in the scrotum or the lower belly (abdomen) may occur.

4. Swelling of the breast.

5.Pain in the lower back may occur. This can be a sign of testicular cancer that has spread to the body’s lymph nodes.

6.Here are a few side effects that might occur after treatments for prostate cancer.

7.A need to urinate often, especially at night.

8.Weak, or interrupted urine flow.

9.Trouble starting to urinate and emptying the bladder or being able to urinate at all.

10.Certain treatments can cause psychological impacts on patients.

11.Some patients behave in ways that are outside of their usual character traits.

How the person’s lifestyle may change.

Male cancer patients are generally encouraged to improve their eating habits and to consume a more healthy diet if they are not already on one. Support might come from something as simple as offering to share meal planning or to cook a meal every now from a list of healthy ingredients. Practical things like picking up the groceries can be a help, too.

Cancer Support Groups

In many countries, you will be able to find support groups. These groups offer a great deal of support and give you the opportunity to talk to other people going through the same thing. A practical tip could be to research your local area for one. You could even suggest going along with them for support. Hospitals will offer a continuous follow-up appointment to discuss the patient’s health and even offer advice on things like family planning.

Supporting Yourself When Your Role Involves Supporting Someone With Cancer

It is important to seek support when your role is a caring one. All too often, carers and those close to a patient can feel overwhelmed and neglect to take care of themselves. Even though they want to do their best to help, this can end up being counter-productive. Ask friends and family members to share the workload and to help each other out.

Take breaks away so that you can recharge your batteries and, above all, try not to feel that you are failing because you cannot ‘do it all’. No one is superhuman when it comes to being a carer, after all. If the person you’re caring for does not know what they need at a particular moment, then you ought to consider giving something that can be accepted merely for its intention as something positive. This could be something as seemingly insignificant as your time.

Support at Home

A lot of practical and emotional support is available to cancer patients and their families. The support that is offered varies from helping with medication to offering to help maintain a family home. What to consider when talking to a cancer patient: Communication is a very important way of supporting a cancer patient. Some people would like to keep their diagnosis private but each person is unique. It is generally good to try to be open when you are expressing your feelings but one must take the patients’ feeling into consideration, too.

Life After Cancer

There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ approaches to living with cancer as a part of your past. What is important to note is that there is significant help out there from several organisations. For some, there will be a large amount of adjustment that needs to take place and for others, it will be an easier transition to make. Speaking to a psychologist or counsellor can be very helpful.

Psychological Treatments

One of the practical and focussed psychological treatments that are available these days is cognitive and behavioural therapy or CBT. This approach has been shown in several studies to offer an effective means enhancing the quality of life of people with a range of chronic diseases, including cancer. Studying mental control through mindfulness is another technique many people who are dealing with the after-effects of cancer find beneficial. Courses in it are available from MacMillan and many other resources unrelated to cancer.


All in all, Movember can make a good a route into facing up to cancer – either one’s own or that of a loved one. If it gets people talking and removing so-called taboos concerning the disease, then so much the better.

However, dealing with the aftermath of diagnosis and treatment will often take more adjustment for both the patient and the people around them. As such Movember represents a positive first step in the long journey, often towards recovery.

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