The agony of living with cancer is not only to the affected person, it is equally traumatizing to the close family and friends and to a larger extent to the society. The close family members faces the worst blunt, they have to comfort and care for the affected person and share in the pain and agonizing moments. This paper shall be looking at how a woman’s breast cancer impacts on the normal functioning of a family, its impact on the family member and the need for support and counseling to both the woman and the family.
Cancer refers to any malignant tumor that is as a result of an unusual and incontrollable dividing of the cells in the body. Breast cancer too is as a result of a tumor developing in a person’s breast. It starts as a lump in one breast ten further spreads to both breasts if not treated in time. There are three factors that can lead to a woman getting breast cancer, it can be genetical. A woman who comes from a family where there is prevalence in breast cancer, if for example her sisters, mother or aunts have had it, she has higher chances of developing cancer in later life (Fallowfield,2007).
Age too is another factor and women develop breast cancer as they grow older starting from the early forties. Diet has also been identified as another lead factor. Women who don’t get enough exercises are at more risk as too those who have unhealthy habits like excessive smoking, drinking and consumption of high fat meals (James Fahner, 2007). My case study takes me to a small neighborhood in Maryland, U. S. A. ; here we will encounter a lady named Georgina, a wife and a mother of two boys and a girl. She is in her late forties and still struggling with breast cancer.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of thirty seven. This is the year that her life changed dramatically, it continues to change day in day out and has seen the removal of her left breast in a bid to arrest the spread of the disease. Amid tears, she says her condition was exacerbated by the fact that her lump was not detected early (Aldredge, 1998). Early detection of breast cancer makes it easy to seek for easier and effective treatment. Statistics are in favor of early detection, modern technology can enable more than 90% of those diagnosed early to be cured (Family doctor.
org; 2005, p. 117). Despite her being highly educated, she was very ignorant of the disease and was unconcerned with the lumps developing in her left breast. She only sought expert assistance when the cancerous growth had already spread too far. She has all along attributed the lumps in her breasts to having been emanating from hormonal changes and age. She is paying dearly for that. Cancer diagnosis or any diagnosis associated with terminal illness is a scary affair. Equally disturbing is the thought of how your loved ones will cope with the sad news.
Georgina’s husband is a public relations manger with a local bank; she herself works with an advertising firm in the same locality. Her three kids have yet not gone beyond 10th grade and might be too young to understand her situation. She could not too understand how she came to be diagnosed with cancer at a young age of 33 despite the statistics predicting the occurrences to be more prevalent in post menopausal periods (Colditz GA et al, 1995, p. 52). The rest of the family lives in Europe where they tend to the family business.
Although they have been there to help her cope with the trying moments, the distance apart has not helped much and she has to rely with her husband and close friends for physical and emotional support. How families cope with breast cancer cases is one of the most explored topics. Different people react in varied manner after learning that the close friend or partner has been diagnosed with breast cancer (Heiney et al, 2001, p. 134). Women with breast cancer should be cared for and comforted by their families as they go through the hallowing process in search of cure.
While it is important for family members and friends to be there for her and encourage her to think positively, intimate partners are shouldered with the duty to reassure the woman of their unconditional love and commitment (Invision, 2007). Breast cancer is physically, mentally and emotionally devastating to all those involved especially to the close family members. If not handled with care, it might lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction and even a major break up in a family, more so between the affected partners. These were the thoughts running through Georgina’s mind after the doctor informed her of the test results.
The impact of the diagnosis she was sure would have an impact not just in her life but also in those close to her. Worse still was the doctor’s opinion that the breast could not be salvaged and had to be surgically removed. This was the last blow to her already bruised physical and emotional stability. This is in the understanding of the role that breasts play in a woman’s sexuality and self image. They are the core source of their feminine identity and anything that may interfere with their existence and well being is bound to damage a woman psychologically (ehealth MD, 2004).
The normal functioning of the family structure is also at risk; the family members may not understand enough or may be unaware of how to cope with the situation. Sometimes the breast cancer patient out of emotional stress maybe making demands that may seem unreasonable to the family members who might not understand her special needs. A woman has a higher risk of anxiety and depression immediately after losing her breast and it may lead to a family crisis like divorce should they fail to adjust according to the changing situations (ehealthMD. 2004).