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Besides the physical and health changes that a newly diagnosed cancer patient has to deal with, there is also some psychological trauma that they experience.
Major questions many patients grapple with are;
1. Will I die?
2. If I die, how will my family cope?
3. How will we pay for all the treatments?
4. How does the quality of my life change after this?
They are often faced with uncertainty, despair and hopelessness about their future. Trauma counsellors liken it to a lesser form of PTSD experienced by soldiers.
According to a cancer care handbook, there are certain ways you can help lessen their burden.
1. Respect their privacy. If they disclose their diagnosis to you, don't share it without their permission. And respect their wishes about their course of treatment.
2. Assure them that you will always be there for them. That the diagnosis changes nothing.
3. Don't leave them out of any activities. Let them opt out if they want to.
4. Listen to them when they need to talk. Don't interrupt. Sometimes they just want a sounding board.
5. They will have some great days and some really hard ones. Don't take any affronts personally.
6. Seek out support groups. If In Nairobi or its environs, seek out Faraja Cancer Support located in Parklands Nairobi. They offer free counselling, yoga, and other rejuvenating therapies for cancer patients.
1. Don't give unsolicited advice.
2. Don't tell them "I understand how you feel," because you really don't.
3. Don't avoid talking about the disease. They can sense when you aren't being upfront with them. In the same breath, don't let everything you do revolve around the sickness.
4. Don't let your friendship change. It could be the one thing they hope remains the same about their life.
5. If suffering from a bout of illness, no matter how trivial, stay away. Their immunity is compromised while undergoing treatment.