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Archive for the ‘Support’ Category

The time has come to make some space at home. This means that the Their Cancer – Your Journey books we had printed have got to go. I decided the best way to accomplish this was to give them away to be of use to others. Because of the cost of shipping, the most economical way to do this seemed to be to send the books out to local cancer support groups, hospices, cancer information centres and anywhere else with the ability to distribute them to those in need in their local area.
The only cost is for shipping – £6.99 to UK addresses for a pack of 20 books, other countries please ask for a price. To read more about this offer or to order books please visit the Families Facing Cancer website.
Offer available while stocks last.

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Cancer Fighting Strategies

On this blog our focus is on the friends and family of those who have cancer – their problems and concerns, how they are affected, and how they can help both themselves and their loved ones. Often for friends and family their top concern is how will the person with cancer heal? Whilst healing cancer is not your job, it is understandable that you would want to be aware of the best cancer resources.

Information on the internet can be bewildering, so here is our selection of some resources which may help with support for the person fighting cancer. (more…)

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Mind Healing?

The Healing Journey Program was presented at the NCCSHG conference by its creator Alastair Cunningham and Petra Griffiths, who heads the program in the UK.

The Healing Journey is based on the premise that healing can take place from outside (conventional medicine and most complementary and alternative practices) and from inside (psychological and spiritual change and self-healing). Both of these are valid and may well be necessary, but they can also work in harmony. Evidence also shows that quality of life improves when people work on that inner healing. This is taking an active approach to a cancer diagnosis in yourself or another – rather than the passive approach of leaving it all up to the doctors.

The Healing Journey Program itself has been used extensively in Canada for over 25 years, and refined using research and feedback into a 5-level program where participants progress to the level they wish, with each level going deeper into the mind and spiritual aspects of being. The program is open to those who have or had cancer, and their friends and family.

A UK edition of The Healing Journey: Overcoming the Crisis of Cancer book is now available, and I will be reading this and reviewing it in due course. As a healing journey is appropriate for everyone, not just those who are ill, I’ve also decided to work through the programme myself and report back here how I get along. (I am always very conscious that dealing with, thinking and writing about cancer on a day-to-day basis takes some managing on an emotional level so I definitely have something to gain) Both the Healing Journey UK and original Healing Journey websites have access to workbooks and audios to make that possible. What would make things even better would be to have someone to share the journey with, so if anyone would like to join me in self-study and keep in touch by email as to how we are doing, then please do get in touch.

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Self esteem. How much of your self-belief comes from your role in life? For many it is a great deal, with people gaining energy and confidence from their job, or their roles as a homemaker, parent or volunteer. What happens then when suddenly you have the role of carer thrust upon you due to a loved one’s cancer?
This is one of the aspects of ‘Who Am I?’ that I wanted to look at as a result of attending the NCCSHG conference.
You might still be working, but be less able to give full attention to your role due to distractions or worries. Or you may find you are a full-time carer. You might excel at your caring role, or feel that you are poorly suited to it but have no choice. Either way, being a carer is not who you are it is what you are doing – an important difference.
This is why this year’s Carers Week had the theme of ‘A Life Of My Own’. Only by continuing to pursue other interests, by following what matters to you (yes, I know the caring matters, but other things can too), can you maintain a sense of yourself. That sense of yourself helps you cope with the demands of this role, and helps you build into the future when that role is no longer needed.
On top of this, you could go further still and take the path to even greater self-awareness. This is where what defines who you are comes from within rather than being based on activities and interests. This is an option I will be exploring more over the summer.
‘Who Am I?’ is such an interesting question to ask yourself!

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Last year I attended the National Conference of Cancer Self-Help Groups (NCCSHG for short) cancer conference, and in doing so I missed my sons’ school fete day. This year they clashed again and the boys came first, but I was still able to go to the cancer conference 2010 for one day – dashing up to Manchester and visiting family as well!
Even though I was only at the conference for a short time, it felt very different from last year. I already knew where to go, recognised some faces (and some remembered me too), and felt altogether more relaxed. I guess I’m like most people – I prefer places and people I know. But if I hadn’t been prepared to attend last year for the first time then I would have been missing out, as this is a truly excellent event.
I’ll be reporting back my impressions and comments on the sections of the conference I did take part in over the next several weeks – in fact it may take the whole summer as there is so much to think about!
My first impression though is that for me there was a theme to the conference. It wasn’t an official theme, just something that came up a few times and meant something to me. The theme was ‘Who Am I?’
This is an issue that can come up for someone with cancer as their world and self-image is rocked – and this has a knock-on effect for everyone around them. It is an issue for friends and family as their role alters, sometimes dramatically if they are thrust into a caring role. I’ll be looking at these issues in more depth in future posts, but for now I would be interested to hear your stories. How was your self-image affected by cancer diagnosis or treatments? Was it someone else who felt all at sea and that affected you? Please share your story as a response to this post, or feel free to email me.

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I came across an article which talks about how mindfulness meditation can help people with cancer and their supporters by interrupting the cycle of negative thoughts and worries. You can read the article here.
I personally find it difficult to ‘just meditate’ – which probably means I have not practiced enough. So I prefer guided meditations, and I had some created for Families Facing Cancer. One of them is a Mindfulness Meditation, and you can download it to play on your computer or MP3 player here : mindfulness meditation cancer. It is about 12 minutes long – I hope you enjoy it.

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As part of Carer’s Week 2010 we are thinking about carers needs – what will allow them to have a life of their own? Yesterday I shared a resource which can help carers to recognise that this is something they need and can have. Today I would like to look at what those needs might be. I am not a carer myself, though I have family members who have provided full-time care for my mother when she was ill, so I will probably miss out some needs. I believe that all of these and more should be provided to carers :

  • Information – about the illness, caring and benefits.
  • Training – in caring techniques appropriate to the care they are providing – and ongoing as the care needed may well increase with time.
  • Advocates – people to speak on their behalf, both on a national level and for them individually to ensure they get whatever benefits or respite they need.
  • Respite care – to be relieved of caring on a weekly basis and for regular holidays, without having to ask for this.
  • Equipment – the equipment which can make all the difference to caring should be assessed and provided. The carer should not have to research this themselves.
  • An alternative – if the carer is or becomes physically or emotionally unable to provide the level of care needed there should be resources available to step in and provide an alternative, be that residential care or more likely carers coming in to the home. Carers should not be made to feel they have let anyone down if they are not able to continue in their caring role.

What else do you, as a carer, need? Or am I demeaning carers by suggesting they need help? Please share your experiences.

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What a strange title!
The reason for it is that I wanted to share a resource with you. If you are a carer, you probably won’t buy it. Heaven forbid that anyone should suggest you be (even a little bit) selfish. But you should, you should – buy it, that is!
And if you know someone who is a carer (even if they think they aren’t, really) then you should buy it and give it to them.
This resource is a book, and it’s called The Selfish Pig’s Guide to Caring. The title is, of course, a bit of a joke (and if humour about such a sensitive subject is likely to offend you, then I guess it won’t be the book for you). Carers are not really selfish at all – but they often think they are. “Why should I get a day off from caring when my loved one cannot get a day off from their illness or disability?” Well, maybe the key word here is their.
In this book Hugh Marriott gives lots of practical advice, as well as subtly (ok, pointedly) suggesting that being a little bit of a selfish pig would be a very good idea. I devoured the book over last weekend, and think it’s the first thing any caregiver should read – before all the leaflets about their loved one’s illness! Now I’m just trying to think of a way to pass it on to my father, who does not yet think of himself as a carer (the second time around).
You can find links to buy the book on Amazon through our website here.

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Carer’s Week 2010 starts today and I will be trying to share something here every day.

Here is one carer’s story, and I think it’s helpful as she describes how she has been able to find support. Although Julie is not caring for someone with cancer, you may be able to find support in a similar way to her.

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Next week is the 10th Annual Carer’s Week in the UK. The theme this year is A Life of My Own, and carers are invited to share what they need in order to have a life of their own. I’ll be trying to keep up to date with the events of Carers Week next week (and I ought to just point out for my US readers that when we use the term carer we’re not talking about a professional, but a friend or family member looking after their loved one in some way – you might use the term caregiver).
Before Carers Week starts on Monday 14th June, I want to have a quick think about why carers should have a life of their own. You may think it’s obvious, but I find that isn’t always the case. Sometimes people comment on my book ‘Their Cancer – Your Journey’ by saying ‘But you’re asking me to be selfish!’ – though in fact what I am saying is that it is not selfish to take care of your own needs. So why should a carer do that – and have a life of their own? Here are my suggestions, feel free to add yours as well.

  1. To help you remember that life is not all about illness.
  2. To give others the benefit of your company if you so desire.
  3. To keep hold of who you are and not lose yourself in your role.
  4. To make sure the person you are caring for is not so dependant on you emotionally that they have problems if you cannot be there.
  5. To make you better able to cope and less likely to lose your cool.
  6. To give you something to talk about.
  7. To ensure that when the caring role ends there is still something left in your life.

Carers are amazing – not because they have chosen this challenging role, but precisely because they haven’t. And even having not chosen it, they keep going against all odds, simply because in spite of everything thrown at them they still care.

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