cancer care is a family affair. you have to work together as a team

By Ann Fry, MSW

I’d like to discuss the needs of the cancer patient and the provider of their needs as a “team.” In other words, how do you really work together on this project we can call CANCER or “The Big C”?

First and foremost, let’s declare you are in this together — the patient, well, it isn’t choice — he/she has cancer. But, the caretaker “chooses” to be there and to help and to care for the other. Perhaps it’s obligation because of marriage vows or parental or child responsibilities. However, they choose to stay and help as they can. So, how can we turn this into a team effort?

Second, let’s not think of it as a team, but let’s actually BE a team.

I work with corporations, coaching their managers and their employees to work together to make a better corporate culture or environment. I help all the pieces of the pie figure out what it takes to be a better team. I want to use that knowledge to help you here.

Here’s a question to pose to yourself:

What does it take to be part of a team or to BE a team?

Stop reading this and write down some responses.

Now, that you’re back to the article, let me describe some of my answers:

  1. A cooperative unit
  2. People involved in some joint action
  3. Collaboration

For a sports team to work, people DO have to join together, cooperate, go after a common goal.

The same can be said for a family team, and thus for a personal team working towards their common goal. For our purposes, we are using dealing with the Big “C” together for the well-being of you all.

You might not be punting, or running for the goal or might not have a ball or a stick in your hands, but you are moving forward, hoping for an outcome that is favorable and that you can all agree to and put energy towards.

With that definition, ask yourselves, what are our goals?

  • Do you want the cancer to be gone?
  • Are we willing to face the scary parts together for the ultimate goal that it will “knock off” the cancer?
  • Can we keep each other on track?

Here’s an example of excellent teamwork from a husband and wife team I know well. She had brain cancer, which then spread to the need for stem cell treatment. Whether earlier in chemo OR during the time she was in modified isolation, he was always there. He slept in the chair in her room every night, so when she awakened, he would be a familiar face for her. When she was in isolation, he had a full couch in her “suite” and would sleep there with his mask, gown and gloves. Now, in order for that to happen, he had to get team support from his grown kids. They had to take care of the pets at home, bring things as needed. He also needed to get support and “buy in” from his workplace. They allowed him to set up his computer and work remotely from the hospital.

She is now, home, still in semi-isolation. He is able to go physically to work now sometimes and they are advancing in positive ways.

I invite you to discuss with each other what your purposes are for your team, where you want to go with it, what you want your outcomes to be.

Remember, that alone we can do only so much… but together, we can do so much more!

Written by Savor Health
Savor Health offers a comprehensive range of nutrition services for people with cancer and their loved ones. Using the latest technology and research, Savor provides individually personalized nutrition solutions that meet each patient’s unique needs from prevention to survivorship. Services include individually curated information and resources, one on one nutrition counseling with oncology-credentialed registered dietitians and home delivery of meals tailored to individual needs and tastes. Savor is in the business of nourishing the body, mind and spirit of people with cancer. Cancer starves the body of nutrition. Savor Health uses nutrition to fight cancer.

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