How To Help When A Loved One Has Cancer

Cancer and Its Life-Changing Effects

By Scott Sanders

Cancer is more than a disease. It affects a person socially, economically and mentally. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. People of all socioeconomic backgrounds, races, genders and creeds are vulnerable to this threat. When someone you love faces a cancer diagnoses, it elicits a lot of complicated feelings — anger, fear and grief are just the tip of the iceberg. However, the most prevalent thing you feel is a desire to help your loved one during this difficult time. But how do you truly help someone with cancer?

If you want to truly help a person going through cancer treatment, it is useful to understand the various problems the diagnosis presents.

  • Cancer has many physical symptomsthat can make day-to-day life painful. Anemia, fatigue, chronic pain, swelling, incontinence and persistent coughing are all common symptoms for various types of cancer. Once in treatment, the cancer patient has to deal with the various side effects that come with that, as well.
  • Cancer treatment is far from cheap. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, newly approved cancer drugs costan average of $10,000 a month with some therapies costing as much as $30,000 a month. That is an incredible financial burden for most Americans, especially if their health insurance is sub-par or non-existent.
  • Cancer patients often suffer mental health issuesincluding depression, anxiety and sleep problems. These complications make it extremely difficult to complete even the most basic activities like cleaning, cooking, and other household chores.

Listening: The Best Way To Help

The best way to help a loved one with cancer is to simply listen to them. Acknowledge what they are going through and always act in a friendly, empathetic and appropriate way. When talking with your friend or family member, you don’t have to fill up your time with chatter — it’s OK to be silent when you don’t know what to say. Be an empathetic and active listener and avoid making judgments, especially if they are simply venting. If you say something wrong, apologize and assure them you want to support them during this time. For encouragement, suggest doing simple activities you know they enjoy. This can help them restore a sense of control in their lives.

Helping Around the House

Between juggling treatment and the rest of their lives and the debilitating symptoms of cancer, it is common for people to fall behind when it comes to home care. A practical way to help a person with cancer is lending a hand around the house. Taking over for cleaning, cooking, or childcare duties from time to time can give your loved one a much needed break in their hectic schedule. If you aren’t much of the domestic type, you can hire help for just about anything these days from a handymanwho completes household repairs on the weekends to a dog walkeror pet sitterwho makes sure Fido is taken care of when your loved one doesn’t have the energy.

Help Raise Funds

The expensive costs of cancer health care can do a lot of damage to a person’s finances. Fundraisingfor your loved one can ensure they make it through their treatment without having to face bankruptcyin the end. Establishing a nonprofit group allows you to legally request funds from the general public and instills trust in donors. The return on investment of a nonprofit group for cancer fundraising can be amazing. Once the nonprofit is established, a fundraising event gets the community involved and drums up donations. Campaign for local businesses to contribute to the fundraiser and promote your event using both local media and social networking.

 

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Cancer affects people physically, financially, mentally and emotionally. The best way to help is listening. Be a nonjudgmental presence that is there to support your loved one. Lending a hand around the house is another great way to help. From cooking dinner to hiring a handyman, you can help take some of the weight off your loved one’s shoulders. The financial burden of cancer leaves some people facing bankruptcy after treatment. Creating a nonprofit group and organizing an event that raises funds for your loved one can keep them in the clear financially so they don’t have to worry about such an encumbrance while treating this disease.

Seeing Blindness

Seeing Blindness

Seeing Blindness

new

Seeing Blindness

Facing Light – new project – seeing blindness

While Facing Light has initiated projects on Aging and Schizophrenia, another exhibit in the works is focused on blindness.  While there are so many sight challenged individuals out there with amazing stories and accomplishments, this exhibit is focused not on their stories, but on them, the individual, the faces of blindness.  The aim is to force the viewer to see blindness, to see the individual – not what they have done in the face of challenges they have overcome, but to see the person.  Hearing about the strength against adversity stories, it is easy for a sighted person to look past the individual and focus on the accomplishment, the end instead the journey.  With Seeing Blindness, the Facing Light Foundation aims to refocus the viewer to the person, the face of blindness.

 

Seeing Blindness – a photographic exhibit

new before + after

Facing Chemo – Before & After

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new before + after

Facing Chemo – Before & After

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New images, New connections

Facing Chemo - a photographic project

Facing Chemo – a photographic project

We hear stories about people meeting online, sharing similar interests, fighting similar causes, maybe even meeting their next partner. The world is vast and yet the internet enables us to experience places, people and communities we might never have known. For cancer patients the internet provides a wealth of resources, not the least of which are online support groups where people can chat, share experiences, laugh, and cry, and support one another both in difficult times and in good. Sometimes you just want someone who can relate to what you’re feeling, someone who just gets it.

One of the most rewarding elements of the Facing Chemo project has been watching the friendships that evolve as a result. The connections that occur because of this common thread called cancer, can be powerful beyond explanation. I’ll never forget an experience I had at the show’s initial opening. I was standing with one woman, a participant who had gone through treatment for ovarian cancer, a vicious aggressive disease, and this woman was a true warrior. Another participant approached us, weaving her way through the crowded room, looked at the woman beside me with wells of tears in her wearied eyes, and quietly asked, “ovarian cancer?” and with outstretched arms whispered, “me too.” Those women had never spoken, but they knew of each other from the project, and stood in that room amidst nearly 300 people, hugging and crying for what seemed like an infinite period of time. It’s one of my most favorite experiences from that extremely emotional night.

Those connections are the ones that I think back upon when sharing the story of these two beautiful women pictured both above and below. Bob had the pleasure of shooting them in his studio just a few weeks ago. They met online, their connection so strong that they currently talk every day – chemo buddies for life. While they didn’t actually meet through the Facing Chemo project, they did meet for the first time, in person, for a photo shoot in Bob’s studio – and what a wonderful experience it was to capture these now lifelong friends!

Facing Chemo - a photographic project

Facing Chemo – a photographic project

Facing Chemo - a photographic project

Facing Chemo – a photographic project

Facing Chemo - a photographic project

Facing Chemo – a photographic project

Facing Chemo in Switzerland this summer

A selection of images from the Facing Chemo Before & After exhibit will be on display at a gallery in Switzerland this summer as part of a larger exhibit on the human condition.  WER BIN ICH?  WHO AM I?


Houser_140823_Tania_before-after

WER BIN ICH?
Was kann ich wissen, was soll ich tun, was darf ich hoffen?

WHO AM I?
What can I know what should I do, what I should hope?

Trying to understand our Identity has preoccupied mankind since time immemorial. Each and every one of us grapples with the issue throughout our lifetime. Nevertheless, none of us can clearly or definitively answer the question: What makes us the person we are today? What impact does our environment have on our sense of self and what is predetermined by our genetic makeup? The Exhibition invites you to delve into the complexity of your Identity, to engage with your own unique personality, to question its assumptions and educate it further. Thoughts and insights of the curators are illustrated through artworks, new media and exhibits from every day life and assist the visitor to playfully explore who they are, what motivates them and what they still may want to become.

Vögele Kultur Zentrum
Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin
Gwattstrasse 14
CH – 8808 Pfäffikon SZ

For more information [in German]
VoegeleKulturZentrum_Veranstaltungen

Art and healing at Brown University

Last month, images from Facing Light’s project, Facing Chemo Before & After, hung at a symposium put on at Brown University focused on using art in the healing process.  The Symposium, hosted by Artists and Scientists as Partners, was entitled Designing the Next Steps – Art, Health & Design.  The work that they do centers around advocating for persons with Parkinson’s Disease and Autism Spectrum Disorders and using dance as a healing tool.

Facing Chemo - a photographic project

Facing Chemo – Before & After

“Brown’s initiative (in the intersection of art and science) will send a message to the arts and science communities throughout academic and research institutions and lend credibility to a burgeoning field of study. It will also add to Brown’s reputation for innovative and collaborative research.  With new information and research supporting the benefits of the arts on people with Parkinson’s and Autism, doctors, educators, and artists will have new approaches to offer. Possible outcomes could be reduced need for medications and medical care. At the least, there will be evidence that there are effective options to current approaches.” [Brown-ASaP site]

Given the synergy with ASaP and Facing Light’s work, we were thrilled to be invited to collaborate with the event.

 

Facing Chemo - Before & After

Facing Chemo – Before & After

Facing Chemo Before & After was recognized by the 2015 International Photo Awards for their Social Cause division

We are honored to have been recognized by the 2015 International Photography Awards for Social Cause!

IPA2015Award

[Robert Houser Photography]