Helping Cancer Patients Who Help Themselves

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

One of the toughest jobs that a person will ever be called upon to perform might be that of a cancer patient supporter, more commonly referred to as a caregiver. I believe that these people are saints because they are requested to be there for another person when that person is going through cancer or any other serious illness. Despite the fact that they must maintain their own lives with all of their responsibilities, they now need to be there to help with every detail of a cancer patient’s needs. Therefore I would expect that the patient would be willing to do as much as possible to make the experience as easy as possible for the patient supporter and find it hard to believe that such is not always the case.

I personally don’t understand how any cancer patient could ever consider treating a voluntary helper with anything less than respect and gratitude. Barbara Jacoby

I understand what a person deals with when it comes cancer and its treatment. There are days when pain and sickness and fatigue just seem to be completely overwhelming. The effects of surgery and chemotherapy can be hard to comprehend if you have not experienced them and pain thresholds can vary greatly from one patient to another. As a result, there is no way to determine what an individual might actually be experiencing. So most patient supporters will do anything and everything possible to make the patient comfortable and to put them into a position where their every need is handled as quickly as possible. But, what do you do if the person that you are helping is not only not appreciative of what you are doing but may be nasty to you and perhaps even downright abusive?

I personally don’t understand how any cancer patient could ever consider treating a voluntary helper with anything less than respect and gratitude. This is a person or often a group of people who are willing to help even when this help will seriously disrupt their own lives in ways most can’t imagine. The patient supporter are giving of time and money and talents in a variety of areas in order to make someone else feel better and to help them with their recuperation. They don’t ask what’s in it for them and would never even consider not helping if they can. Yet, for some patients, they assume an attitude of entitlement just because they are dealing with cancer.

To each patient supporter, I must say that I am so sorry if someone with cancer has abused you. And to those cancer patients, I am sorry that you did not appreciate the sacrifices and hard work of those who were there to help you when you needed it most. It is not an easy thing to take on the responsibilities of a person’s care especially when you are not a trained professional. Therefore, it becomes so important for a patient to help with their own care as much as possible so that the patient supporters do not fall under the pressure of unreasonable expectations.

Your helpers are most likely family members and/or friends who are also experiencing their own emotional effects because of your illness. They have offered to help you, not to become your personal keeper who is responsible to answer your every demand. Such treatment quickly becomes very old and should a helper become tired of your behaving in this way, you shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself completely abandoned. But, if you appreciate the assistance that you are receiving for the most major needs and do all of the smaller things that you can do for yourself, you will not only help yourself and your supporter but you will also have an appreciation of each other that would never be created under any other circumstances. Such a relationship will bond you together forever and will never be forgotten. And a patient who is helping someone who is helping her/him will be treasured more than you can imagine.