Facing Cancer Alone
Many cancer patients have spouses, partners or family to help care for them, but what if you’re single? Dealing with a cancer diagnosis while living alone presents certain challenges that other patients with live-in support systems don’t have to face.
Single cancer patients often have to go to appointments and treatments alone, shoulder financial burdens alone, prepare meals for themselves and navigate the healthcare system on their own, just to name a few.
Handling these things is hard, even when you have caregivers or family there to support you, and going through it by yourself is even more challenging. But there are ways to structure your life so that you’re able to prioritize the most important thing—your health, even if you don’t have much help.
Remember, just because you may be living along, doesn’t mean you have to walk this path alone. Here are several tips for coping with cancer alone.
Take time off
Talk to your manager and HR representatives to discuss your options for taking medical leave. Your health has to be your priority, and most companies have policies and programs in place to help you do just that.
If you can’t take an extended leave, try to modify your schedule to work around your appointments and treatment, and try to work remotely, if possible.
Call on your friends
So often, we find it difficult to ask for help. We don’t want to be a burden and we don’t want to inconvenience anyone. Throw this mentality away when you have cancer. Not only will you need help, but your friends and family, near and far, want to offer that help. They want to be useful. Lean on them.
Even if your friends aren’t nearby, they can order groceries and have them sent to your home. They can keep you company during chemo over video chat. They can send care packages and do online research on clinical trials and new treatments relevant to your diagnosis. Let them help you.
Talk to a social worker
A social worker at your hospital can introduce you to the various support programs your treatment center offers. Many hospitals offer everything from yoga to support groups, so see what activities are available to you.
Make a transportation schedule
Talk to your care team to map our your treatment and appointment plan, and based on that, work out when you need to be at the hospital, and how you’re going to get there. Have your friends sign up to take you and pick you up on certain days, or arrange for taxis or rideshare services. Also, check with the social workers at your hospital to see if they offer any transportation services to patients.
Find support groups
Prioritize your mental health
If you’re struggling, talk to a licensed therapist. They’re trained to help you mange anxiety, depression, loneliness, grief and more. Many therapists have incorporated video or phone counseling into their practices, so you can get help from the comfort of your home. Psychology Today
has a great tool to help you find a therapist that matches your needs.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
The laundry may not always get done. Dishes may pile up in the sink. Mail might be stacked by your door. It’s fine. While your dealing with a cancer diagnosis, don’t feel guilty about the little chores or errands you just can’t bring yourself to complete. You’ll get to it eventually. Focus on yourself and your healing first, and everything else should come after that.
Keep up your social calendar
Even if your loved ones are spread out all over, you can still setup weekly video calls to check in and catch up. Set up a recurring event so that you’re in consistent contact with your family and friends.