Ask Janine - Caring for My Father With CancerMar 03, 2021
By Janine Wirth
I found out last week that my father has been diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. I'm an only child and my parents got divorced when I was 7, so he is single. How can I best support him and myself through this difficult time?
I'm sorry to hear that. It's never easy to receive bad news, especially when it involves our loved ones.
You're in quite a unique position being both an only child and with your father being single, as usually your mother or your father's partner would be his main source of support.
What I would invite you to keep in mind throughout this journey is ‘We hope for the best, but we plan for the worst.’
A lot of people forget that there are a lot of things that need to be sorted out to make this time as peaceful as possible - topics that often aren't pleasant to speak about, especially facing a severe diagnosis, but important, nonetheless. When we feel powerless, taking control of what happens in a worst-case scenario ensures that we feel that our dignity and rights are protected.
This means that should his treatment not go according to plan, that you are legally authorised to make decisions, should he be unable to. To do this well, you first need to know what he wants. This means having an open conversation about his medical care and wishes - this won't be an easy conversation but remind him that for you to show up for him, he needs to take the responsibility of getting his affairs in order and signing any necessary legal documents. You only have to do this once and then you never have to worry about it again.
From a practical standpoint you need to ensure that you are taking extra good care of yourself as this process is going to put mental, emotional and physical strain on both of you.
You are not responsible for doing everything alone, so please reach out to friends and relatives who are willing to help. This could be simple tasks like cooking a meal, doing laundry, picking up supplies, etc. This all adds up very quickly and you want to avoid burnout.
While your father is undergoing treatment, it can be comforting to create a 'chemotherapy care package' for him. I did this for a friend of mine three years ago and it made all the difference. There are several helpful articles online, but I remember I put warm, comfy socks, a lip balm, a new book, an iPod with a few playlists, a hot-water bottle, a sudoku book and a few snacks into the basket I made.
Distraction and comfort are key, so you can add anything that you think your father will enjoy.
I recommend that you actively schedule self-care for yourself and take extra care to make sure you are nourishing yourself with healthy food to keep up your energy levels as well as getting enough sleep and exercise. You might want to take some extra supplements and look into some essential oils to help you relax and de-stress.
A support group might be helpful as this will provide you with a circle of people who have either gone through this already or are currently going through this. If that isn't an option for you, consider getting a therapist - just being able to talk about the experience with someone who understands can be extremely helpful.
I'm sending both you and your father strength and light through this difficult time.
Janine Wirth, is the proud founder of Path to Healing Therapy and Coaching. Her mission is to help female entrepreneurs heal their emotional baggage, heal unresolved emotional trauma and PTSD without spending years in therapy and create spectacular business success for themselves. You may have read her story in The Spotlight and if so you’ll know why she’s so passionate about her work so when she got the opportunity to work alongside The Female CEO and provide a monthly question and answer she was thrilled!
Do you have a question you would like an answer to? If so then drop Janine a line at [email protected] All questions can be anonymous if preferred, just let her know! You can read all about Janine and her work here or catch up socially on Facebook or LinkedIn
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