- Quality of life is the subjective perception, influenced by current health status, of an individual’s ability to perform activities that are considered important.
- Cancer can alter the patient’s quality of life both physically, socially, and psychologically, modifying their entire environment.
- You can help improve the quality of life of a patient undergoing cancer treatment, support always goes hand in hand with a successful recovery.
What is quality of life?
The concept of quality of life has evolved over the years, WHO defines health as “not only the absence of disease, but the presence of physical, mental, and social well-being” and has determined quality of life as “a person’s perception of their position in life in the context of culture and values”.
Cancer and its treatment can dramatically alter a person’s quality of life socially, physically, and even psychologically. These are the main aspects that decrease as the disease progresses, or as the treatment progresses towards a cure.
Pain: having pain stops you from doing many things, some patients see this symptom as a sign of worsening, which can cause them great concern that, in the long run, becomes suffering and can trigger other psychological ailments like anxiety.
Sleep and rest: between 30% and 50% of people with cancer have insomnia, the anxiety that comes with diagnosis and treatment makes it difficult to rest.
Mood: in the process, anger, sadness, fear, and uncertainty may appear. Everyone experiences the disease in their own way, and you should respect each person’s right to choose how they want to deal with it.
Image: hair loss, weight gain, surgical scars, among others, are common; patients must relearn to recognize themselves in the mirror and accept the differences in their body.
How can I help boost the quality of life for my family member with cancer?
Treating a person diagnosed with or undergoing treatment for cancer is not something simple, you must be empathetic and understand that whoever is experiencing the situation is the one who suffers from it. And although it is true that any disease affects the family almost equally, however, the priority will always be the patient and their quality of life.
Here are some tips to help you deal with this situation and help the person who is experiencing cancer.
- Treating a sick person as such is not always helpful, sometimes we minimize their wishes, we think about what is right and what we want than what they themselves want for what is coming. Let them make their own decisions, maybe you can guide them, but in the end the one who has the last word is the patient.
- Encourage them to do activities that they used to enjoy, they probably don’t have the same energy, but spending time with others and forgetting that they are sick will help with their treatment.
- Fear and uncertainty is something that will always be present, you probably feel the same, however, the patient will need a lot of emotional support from the diagnosis to motivate them to follow the treatment, to coping with the treatment as best as possible.
- Many people are far from having a good diet, if this is the case, you should promote the cancer patient’s health and show them that eating healthy does not mean giving up delicious food, always adhering to the recommendations of their treating doctor.
- Being in contact with nature helps regain health and joy. Organize a picnic with the whole family and remind them how beautiful living together is.
- Last but not least, going to specialists is essential for a patient’s excellent quality of life, the most required are usually: nutritionist, psychologist, psychiatrist, and, of course, oncologist.
At the Cancer Center of the ABC Medical Center we can give you specialized care. Contact us!