Recently, a patient was diagnosed with metastasis of his cancer, and I am having hard time figuring out how to tell him that. He has already gotten frail and emotionally unstable due to chronic hospitalization from pneumonia. This is a tough call but truth should be spoken no matter what. How? I am figuring it out still. The daughter requested that I not tell him as yet because he needs time to prepare himself for it. I appreciate that and can understand where she is coming from. The dilemma of the family is overwhelming.
Somehow, I will figure it out how to let the patient know, since it's very important that he knows. He is the one who has to fight and who has to live it. Maybe, it wouldn't be hard, maybe, it would be. But he must know. It's his life at the end of the day!
Cancer is a social disease and I remember writing long essays as part of our school curriculum on the subject that especially included describing the suffering and pain experienced by the patients and their near and dear ones. However, I only got to feel the real pain when an uncle was diagnosed with it. I had great regard for him. He had always been a fighter. He fought till the end and never really gave up until he drew his last breath.
It was hard to deal with the loss of our dear one, and we grieved for many seasons. It was an irreparable loss. While preparing myself to see him breathe his last, I grew stronger and wiser. Being a caregiver, it's important that we sincerely empathize with the patient. Patience is most important, and it helps in developing a healthy relationship between the cancer patients and caregivers. I have also learned that we must not overdo and say things like, "You look healthy, " when they are not, or give instances about those who had cancer and how pathetically they suffered. We should not tell them that we've never known anyone who was cured of cancer by using chemo, radiation and other means.
While dealing with a patient, we must be moderate, empathetic and mature. We must have control over our tongues, and importantly, think before we speak. And if we do not have anything good to say, we better not speak at all.
Also, we must remember that a patient who is suffering has not lost his senses. He is not suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's. He is not even hard of hearing. So, we have to deal with him with utmost sensitivity, carefulness and patience. We have to know what works for him and what doesn't. After all, we all are different individuals, having different psyche and a different threshold of sensitivity.