We all have a need to be loved and supported, not just during difficult times but also during good times.
In any relationship we look for kindness, respect, and a sense of belonging. Faced with the chaos that we at times see happening all around, we seek a refuge from pain and sadness.
When we experience pain and sorrow on a more personal basis, we urgently need to know that there is someone who cares, and will support us, through this crazy maze.
Be it the patient or the supporter, both are at times in equal need of supportive upliftment; of being transported away from the harsh reality of circumstances. It will not bring about a different picture but, hopefully, it will open up a vista for the beauty that is still around but, because of the position we find ourselves in, we fail to recognize.
The survivors and the supporters, become so absorbed in our own circumstances that life carries on in a different direction and we feel at a loss, or left out, or ignored or just worthless.
Cancer is a long term illness and the relationship between the survivor and the supporter needs to be discussed: options, preferences, the amount of time available, level of support – these are all issues that should be more or less agreed upon.
The supporter cannot just take over the life and arrangements of the survivor; this could leave the survivor feeling even more disempowered – which is not conducive to a positive healing process.
Neither can the supporter stand back and wait on orders. Therefore, to avoid a situation of dissatisfaction on both sides, we should engage in a program of communication, that will allow and encourage change in the support process, as the treatment progresses.
In a healthy relationship it may even occur that the survivor will at times support the supporter. This process of symbiosis is of course the ideal situation, when required.
Always respect the wishes and desires of the survivor. Taking over, without consultation, can be seen as taking control and may give rise to discontent.
Speak up and tell your support people what you need – and how much of it!
Written by Dr Magda Rall