Besides the patients themselves, cancer affects families too. There may be changes in relationships and the dynamics of the relationships, changes in the families’ future plans, and in their financial circumstances.
Family Members Experience Strong Emotional Responses
Close family members of cancer patients might experience anxiety and fear, guilt, or even anger. Family members may treat the patient differently, or they may be incredibly supportive.
- Anxiety & Fear – Regarding the welfare of the patient and of the future security of the family;
- Guilt – About not being the one who is ill;
- Helplessness – Over being unable to assist the stricken family member;
- Resentment – About being potentially “left behind” or “abandoned”, or over being required to bear an additional burden.
Children may find it especially hard to cope with the news that a loved member of the family is seriously ill.
Dynamics In Relationships May Change
Cancer affects families in Singapore also via imposing changes in customary roles in their relationships. A patient who has always been in charge, or usually takes care of others, could find it difficult to accept a more dependent role. Conversely, taking charge and taking on the position of caregiver may be difficult and stressful for someone who has never taken on such responsibilities. Drastic changes in relationship dynamics can also potentially result in conflict within the family.
Patients Will Need Help With New Physical Requirements
Cancer patients’ energy level, mobility, appetite, nutritional, and even day-to-day needs will be affected by cancer and its treatment. Family members might not be fully aware of the changes in the patients’ need for assistance, or may be unable to provide it. Sometimes, misunderstanding one another’s behaviors can lead to anger and irritation. Therefore, it is crucial for family members to communicate directly and precisely with the patients on their needs and expectations.
Future Goals May Have To Be Adjusted
Cancer frequently affects families’ ambitions and dreams. The patients and family members could have to adjust their travel, career, or parenting plans, which could lead to feelings of disappointment or even anger. It is important to examine commitments and agree to create new, simple objectives. Priorities that were set before the cancer diagnosis might need to be replaced with new ones, like spending more time together.
Cancer Affects Families’ Financial Plans Due To Potentially High Cost Of Cancer In Singapore
Managing finances in the best of times may already be challenging for many people. Cancer will make it even harder for families to save or spend money. Someone in the family might need to seek additional employment if the patient is unable to work. This is due to the overall financial impact of cancer – the cost of cancer treatment itself (which in Singapore can be very high if private medical treatment is sought), the increase in associated costs (e.g. engaging of home care services, transport costs for treatments, cost of nutritional supplements, physiotherapy) and potential loss of income. It will also be necessary for the patients and their family members to understand more about the health insurance that they have, determine what is covered and what they are responsible for paying. It might be challenging to deal with these, especially if the patients do not have adequate insurance coverage.
Resources For Families With Cancer Patients
Cancer Support Groups
Support groups can be invaluable in helping patients work through life with cancer. Patients and their caregivers can get advice from others, learn from their experience, and at the same time, provide the same to other members too. MOH’s Healthhub has resources to help patient find support groups in Singapore relevant to them.
Financial Planning And Medical Insurance
We have a number of articles relating to the cost of cancer treatment in Singapore, financial planning, and cancer insurance. Click on the links to find out more.
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.