When you are diagnosed with cancer, you have a lot of questions. Most of the time you are wondering how you will manage to keep your family together, stay healthy, take care of yourself, and still take care of your family. This is especially difficult if your children are still very young.
However, it has been proven that living apart from your spouse and children is not conducive to your treatment and future prognosis. In fact, you need your family for emotional support as well as physical support. To understand why you need your family and how they affect the outcome of your cancer treatment process, here is more information on the topic.
The old adage about laughter being the best medicine is almost on target. Laughter releases endorphins in the brain that can help you feel better. When you do not feel good and/or your chemo and radiation are making you sick, finding something to laugh about with your spouse or child helps release those feel-good chemicals. With bursts of endorphins running through your body, you'll feel less pain and nausea, which helps you do some of the things you would normally do in your day anyway.
Hugs and Affection
Human touch, regardless of whether you receive it or give it, increases white blood cell count and decreases negative emotions. For cancer patients who already have significantly fewer white blood cells (a side effect of radiation therapy), this is an excellent reason for staying together as a family when you are fighting cancer. Your body needs to replace these lost white blood cells in order to help you fight the disease. Daily hugs and affection from your children and a spouse that holds you close at night is what you need to keep your health up.
Additionally, touch increases oxytocin, a natural happy chemical in the body. This chemical does a lot to increase pleasant moods, help you feel more secure and safe, and decrease stress and the production of cortisol, a natural hormone that is responsible for elevated stress levels and the production of fat. If you spent all your time in a hospital bed and never saw your family, you would miss out on these benefits, and your body would not heal as quickly as it could if your family was close to you.
Learning to Ask for Help
People who are fiercely independent often have the most trouble with asking for help, especially after hearing that they have cancer. If this describes you, you may be surprised how willing your spouse and children are to do all they can to make you comfortable, if you let them. If you ask for help, even your children know how much you need them and need them to help you during this difficult time. Cancer has a way of drawing families closer together when and if the families stay together under the same roof (i.e., home or hospital suites for families).
Having a Good Support System
As with any illness, having a good support system is important. If you do not have a spouse or older children, then find a support group and get some references for home health aides. These trusted individuals can connect you to additional support that you do not have at home. This is very helpful for single parents or people who have no living family left. If none of that fits your situation, try asking your church for volunteers to help you with housework and meals, and/or keeping you company a few times a week. It makes a very big difference in your survival rate.