World Cancer Awareness Day 4th February 2014
I have lost 6 Family members to Cancer. I’m also awaiting for a Biopsy to rule out Cancer myself. This will be 3rd time I’m under investigation for Cancer in 13 Months. So although a South Leeds blog, Cancer is a Global Health problem.
WHEN YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS CANCER
Talking about Cancer
For most people, a diagnosis of cancer is a life-changing event commonly evoking feelings of shock, fear, anger, sadness, loneliness and anxiety. Talking about cancer to partners, family members, friends and colleagues can help to alleviate these feelings, and yet many people find it difficult.
In most settings, cancer remains taboo and people with cancer are even subject to stigma and discrimination that may stop them from seeking care.
Negative public perception of cancer can stifle informed public discussion and perpetuate a cycle of fear and misinformation that hinders raising awareness about Cancer prevention and the importance of early detection. Countering cultural barriers against speaking about cancer and contesting misinformation is therefore essential.
Even within highly engaged communities, the level of knowledge of cancer and the willingness to talk about it with friends and family can be low.
There are campaigns that specifically challenge the taboos and embarrassment surrounding some male cancers (prostate, testicular and colorectal cancers) and create awareness of early signs and symptoms.
Cancer care-giving and support
Cancer care-giving can also have an enormous influence on both physical and mental health. Cancer carers – most commonly partners, family members or friends – often receive little information or support, and as a consequence many of them experience emotional distress, leading to depression in some cases.
Providing the right support for the person living with cancer can help them cope and improve their quality of life.
Support groups can provide a caring and supportive environment for people living with cancer to express their feelings and reduce anxiety and fear. They also provide a space to share information about cancer treatment options and their side effects.
Cancer and the Workplace
There is a substantial financial burden associated with cancer patients and their carers both in out-of-pocket expenses and in lost income and benefits.
For both patients and their carers, receiving support in the workplace can be a significant factor. A supportive approach from employers can reduce anxiety and provide the skills and confidence to deal with cancer at work. Making adjustments such as supporting a phased-return to work can be an important factor in getting people back to work successfully. A job can restore normality, routine, stability, social contact and income.
In low resource settings, the costs of cancer can be catastrophic for families, with the high costs of cancer treatment and absence from work, impoverishing families.
Cancer, Body Image and Sexual Wellbeing
The impact on sexual well-being is, for many, one of the most devastating consequences of a cancer diagnosis.
Issues of body image and sexuality can have a significant impact on partner relationships and in some cases can be the cause of partner rejection. These issues are not restricted to women. Men facing cancer, particularly prostate and testicular cancer, also face issues around self-esteem and sexual intimacy as well.
Talking about cancer can help to challenge negative beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate myths, cause fear and stigma, and prevent people from seeking early detection and treatment.
Governments, communities, employers and media all have a role to play in changing perceptions about cancer to create a culture where the physical and mental health and wellbeing of cancer survivors and their carers are addressed and people are empowered to access quality cancer prevention and care.
1st appeared on WCA Web site day 2014.