- Cancer Information
- Advanced cancer
- Facing end of life
- Emotional and spiritual needs
- The effect on people close to you
The effect on people close to you
In this section we talk about the effect on the people close to you.
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You may feel that the hardest part about dying is the effect it has on your family and friends. Like you, they may feel shocked and overwhelmed when they find out cancer is at the end stage. They may:
- offer to help in any way they can
- express how much they care, be emotional, or want to spend more time with you or call you more often
- be overprotective, not wanting to leave you alone
- refuse to believe the prognosis, saying things like “I’m sure you’ll get better” or “You’ll beat this”, or suggest various forms of treatment or alternative therapies
- tell the story of a friend or celebrity who experienced a miraculous recovery from something everyone had deemed hopeless and fatal
- pull away and withdraw from your life
- start to regard you as already gone.
Some reactions can feel surprising, frustrating or even hurtful. But family and friends also need time to adjust to the news and come to terms with how they’re feeling.
The emotional support provided by partners can be vital. But partners can feel just as distressed and depressed as the person who is dying.
Be open and honest about the roles you expect each other to play. Do you want a partner to be hands on with your care, or prefer that a health professional looks after you, especially in the end stages of dying?
Does your partner want to care for you? Listening to what each other wants, or feels they can take on, may help you both cope better.
Podcast: Living with Dying
Prof Jane Phillips, Head, School of Nursing and Professor, Centre for Healthcare Transformation, Queensland University of Technology and Emerita Professor Palliative Nursing, University of Technology Sydney, NSW; Prof Meera Agar, Palliative Care Physician, Professor of Palliative Medicine, University of Technology Sydney, IMPACCT, Sydney, NSW; Sandra Anderson, Consumer; A/Prof Megan Best, The University of Notre Dame Australia and The University of Sydney, NSW; Prof Lauren Breen, Psychologist and Discipline Lead, Psychology, Curtin University, WA; David Dawes, Manager, Spiritual Care Department, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Rob Ferguson, Consumer; Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar, Counsellor, Psychotherapist and Social Worker, One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy, NSW; Justine Hatton, Senior Social Worker, Southern Adelaide Palliative Services, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Caitlin MacDonagh, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Palliative Care, Royal North Shore Hospital, Northern Sydney Local Health District, NSW; McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer; Palliative Care Australia; Belinda Reinhold, Acting Lead Palliative Care, Cancer Council QLD; Xanthe Sansome, National Program Director, Advance Care Planning Australia; Kirsty Trebilcock, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA.
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