How to maintain self-care after a lung cancer diagnosis

It’s natural to fear being told you have lung cancer, or any form of cancer, in fact. Unfortunately, for some of us, that conversation will happen at some point in our lives. And it’s all too common, as it can be when processing grief or other traumatic information that people lose the desire to maintain self-care. This guide – from experienced care specialist, Dan Archer - is designed to help you maintain self-care following a lung cancer diagnosis, through easy-to-follow steps that both you and your loved ones can work through together.

Commonalities that you shouldn’t be scared of dealing with:

As self-care can often become less of a priority to people after being delivered the news that they have lung cancer, there are some common occurrences that, if addressed and treated with care, can make the experience far less stressful. These can help alleviate common symptoms, address the emotional side-effects and enable you to understand that you don’t have to go it alone.

Relaxation exercises

Breathlessness can be a very common and frustrating symptom of lung cancer. What’s more, it can often be somewhat of a vicious cycle, as the more frustrated you get, the more breathless you become. Addressing it early and ensuring you’re staying relaxed, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth and not exerting too much energy will help. These can be achieved by practicing natural relaxation exercises. Yoga and meditation are two excellent ways of calmly processing and dealing with the mixed emotions that you will most likely be feeling.

Understanding your emotions

Feeling mixed emotions is natural, and it’s often difficult to cope with. You may experience feelings of shock, denial, fear, guilt, avoidance, anger and loneliness, among others. It’s important to remember that these are natural reactions to have and should be addressed, or they may continue or get worse over time. If you think these thoughts might be turning into depression or anxiety, there is help available. And it’s never too late to get the necessary help. More than 4 in 10 people who are diagnosed with lung cancer are aged 75 and older1, and these feelings of depression and anxiety can manifest from feeling lonely. The value of opting for in-home care during this emotional period is invaluable, even if it’s just for some form of companionship. At Visiting Angels, our team of qualified carers can pop in on a regular basis, supporting with everything from household chores through to more complex care. And because we strive to have the same carer making each visit, our clients feel able to share their thoughts and feelings with someone who they see as a trusted confidant.

Opening a dialogue

With this in mind, one of the most important pieces of advice for those with lung cancer is to not be afraid of opening a dialogue. Informing medical professionals, or even friends or family how you’re feeling is one of the first and most important steps in managing and dealing with your diagnosis. Talking is a great healer of emotional trauma, and can help you process news such as this, as well as reminding you that you are not alone. In the same respect as companionship in these situations, having someone to talk to in a safe, secure environment, whatever it’s about, can provide clarity, a distraction and respite.

Processing trauma and the effect it can have on relationships

Allowing negative emotions to take over may start to affect your relationships with those you’re closest to. Being open and honest about how you feel and what your family and friends can do to help you may put others at ease, as it can be hard for those around you to fully understand what you’re going through. But don’t feel shy about telling people that you need some time to yourself, if that's what you need, as self-reflection and personal time is as important as sharing in these situations.

Dan summarises, “Mental health and maintaining calm and wellbeing is as important as your physical health in situations such as these. It’s all too easy to face a diagnosis and give up, as for so many people it can feel like the end. But that doesn’t have to be the case. At Visiting Angels, we’re always asked how we can support vulnerable members of the community. People often think our services are only used when someone has a physical need, but they actually consist of much more than that – our companionship service is just as popular.

“We’re passionate about ensuring our services help people with a range of needs. We nurture the relationship between the carer and client to a stage where they feel a sense of companionship, positively impacting mental health and ultimately helping them manage their diagnosis and difficult situation more positively. With industry leading staff retention, our clients can choose their caregiver, meaning that achieving companionship is easier. This same retention means we can provide specialist training to our already highly-trained carers to support with complicated conditions.”

1NHS, 2019, Lung Cancer overview

Notes to Editors

For more information on Visiting Angels range of in-home care support services, please visit www.visitingangels.co.uk or call the team on 0114 205 4761.
Image attached: Dan Archer.


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About Visiting Angels

In 2017, the Visiting Angels brand came to the UK under the expert leadership of Dan Archer. A franchise veteran and passionate ambassador for quality care at home, Dan launched the first UK office in October 2017. In less than 12 months, Visiting Angels Sheffield proved to be one of our most successful new franchises. Ever. Dan and his team were awarded ‘Best International Office’ at our 2018 Annual Conference in recognition of their exceptional performance and commitment to the Visiting Angels UK mission. Most care businesses, and in turn, most care franchises, will tell you that they put their clients first. And whilst we don’t disagree with the sentiment, we take a slightly different view on how to achieve it. We believe that to truly be successful in this pursuit, and to change the future of social care in the UK, we must actually put our carers at the heart of the business. For without them, there is no business. We describe this approach as "carer-centric".


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