Cancer Patients Heal Better Depending On Communication With Their Family

It can sometimes be difficult to know what to say to a loved one who has cancer, but for people who are battling the disease, they need those closest to them more than ever if they’re going to feel better and heal.

According to an expert from San Diego State University, communication with family members plays a key role in cancer patients’ health, reports HealthDay.

Communication with family members plays a key role in cancer patients’ health.

Wayne Beach, a communications professor, studied cancer patients and their families for a decade, and found that people who suffer from cancer benefit from continuous positive dialogue with their loved ones.

“Cancer patients do cope and heal better depending on their communication within their families,” Beach said in a news release. “Without this proper communication, these patients don’t heal as well or as long. Having a dysfunctional environment around you is not good — it’s stressful.”

When cancer patients and family members share stories, reminisce, and talk about their hopes and concerns, they can cope with the disease better.

“How family members communicate when coping [with a diagnosis] is important,” Beach said, adding that patients have reported feeling empowered when there is constant, comprehensive communication around them.

Having a dysfunctional environment around you is not good — it’s stressful.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, cancer is the leading cause of death in the country and is responsible for 30 per cent of all deaths.

It’s estimated that 206,200 new cases of cancer and 80,800 deaths of cancer will occur in Canada in 2017 — lung, breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer are the most common types of cancer in Canada (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer).

Based on this data, chances are you, or someone you know, has been affected by cancer at some point in your lifetime. And because of this, it’s important we know how to interact with people who are affected by it.

“If you hear someone has been diagnosed with cancer, our natural inclination tends to be to think of it as a death sentence,” Beach said. But during his observations, he found that much of the communication between family members and cancer patients “focused on life, rather than death.”

If you hear someone has been diagnosed with cancer, our natural inclination tends to be to think of it as a death sentence.

“It is so much more about hope than despair. I really didn’t expect that going in,” he noted.

“So we’re looking at how good and bad news relating to cancer gets delivered and responded to,” he added.

When interacting with a person who has cancer, Beach recommends you offer encouragement, stay positive, talk with them frequently, be open about how you’re feeling, listen to what the patient is saying, and allow them to vent to you about their fears.

What you shouldn’t do? Don’t be silent around them, avoid talking about cancer or their diagnosis, and focus on the negatives.

According to the American Cancer Society, studies have shown that “cancer survivors with strong emotional support tend to better adjust to the changes cancer brings to their lives, have a more positive outlook, and often report a better quality of life.”

What you shouldn’t do? Don’t be silent around them, avoid talking about cancer or their diagnosis, and focus on the negatives.

They also note that people who have cancer do better if they have supportive friends.

“Make sure your friend knows that they’re important to you. Show that you still care for your friend despite changes in what they can do or how they look,” the American Cancer Society says.

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Author: Chloe Tejada