Giving you the tools to deal with a cancer diagnosis

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  Posted by: electime      9th September 2021

Dealing with a diagnosis of cancer can be really tough especially when you are not sure on how best to support your loved one who is living with cancer. Understandably, the word cancer can evoke a lot of feelings of worry, sadness, shock, and fear. When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer it can be really difficult to understand and process your own feelings. You may feel guilty for being upset, angry, numb and you may even feel resentful. While it is important to support our loved ones, who are living with cancer it is also important to support ourselves and process our own emotions.

Dan, a nuclear engineer from Cumbria, approached the Electrical Industries Charity after his wife, Emily, was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Since his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer six weeks earlier Dan had been struggling to come to terms with her diagnosis. Emily had been the emotional and physical support structure of their family. Emily organised play dates, dinners, birthday cards, doctor’s appointments and ran a successful baby clothing website and brand. Dan was struggling to understand how Emily, a 32-year-old, had developed cancer and now had a 70 per cent chance of survival. Dan felt resentful at the world, guilty that he as a smoker was completely healthy, and he was incredibly anxious about Emily’s health and the wellbeing of their children.

The Electrical Industries Charity support team spoke to Dan and encouraged him to acknowledge his feelings and process them. Ignoring feelings can seem like a good idea especially if you want to completely focus on your loved one’s treatment but by ignoring your emotions you are impacting your wellbeing and potentially the people you are trying to support. The Charity offered Dan talking therapy and extended the offer to Emily also. Dan commented Emily seemed to be coping miraculously well and this compounded his feelings of guilt. The Charity explained to Dan although Emily may appear, she is coping well she is probably still experiencing fear, shock and grief but her coping mechanisms may be different. The Charity asked Dan to speak to Emily and understand how she was dealing with her emotions. Dan wanted to take part in talking therapy but was conscious about the time this may take away from caring for Emily, his children and work.

The Electrical Industries Charity liaised with his workplace so Dan could take time in his workday for therapy sessions.

The Charity sourced and funded talking therapy sessions for Dan so he could offload his feelings in a safe space. Dan undertook six sessions of funded therapy which helped him to process his feelings and understand how to cope when he experienced different emotions during Emily’s cancer journey. Dan’s charity support worker also signposted him to MacMillan cancer support charity who the Electrical Industries Charity have been partnered with since 2018. MacMillan have a wealth of information and support available and Dan was able to connect with other spouses who were supporting partners through cancer.

Emily underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat her breast cancer. Despite best efforts the cancer was not completely eradicated, and Emily then made the difficult decision to have another round of chemotherapy and a mastectomy. Seven months post mastectomy Emily’s cancer has not returned, and doctors are hopeful Emily continues with a clean bill of health. Dan’s case with the Electrical Industries Charity remains open and his caseworker consistently checks in with Dan and his family. Dan is assured should he ever need more support in any capacity the Charity can support him.

The Electrical Industries Charity can support you and your family through the Employee and Family Programme for the electrical and energy sector. If you need assistance, please contact support@electricalcharity.org or 0800 652 1618.