They say that dying of cancer is the sweetest and best way to die, but no matter what, death is still painful for those that will be left behind and to the one who is going away, especially if she is a mother. A mother who worries about the welfare of her family that brings her fears, anxiety, and sadness even in her deathbed.
A mother with liver cancer worries about her daughter who wants to drop out of school so she can take care of her. She feels lonely that her daughter worries about her and fears the idea that one day she will be a motherless child. She has to prepare and make sure that her daughter’s future will be secured. She gets tired of thinking about many possibilities. Besides her daughter, she also worries about her loving husband, how he will handle the loss if ever, and how he can be able to manage the household. So much is going on in her mind that leaves her mentally drained.
About a third or so of patients who screen positive for distress are clinically depressed, but oncologists typically don’t know the diagnostic criteria nor are they interested in taking the time with a structured clinical interview to formally diagnose patients. — James C. Coyne Ph.D.
A mother with incurable cancer has a higher probability of experiencing depression and anxiety. And this mental struggle has a significant effect on her quality of life.
An online survey of women with stage IV solid tumor cancer who have a child under 18 years old was conducted. The study showed that these women have higher depression and anxiety index.
Things You Can Do To Alleviate The Depression
- Depression can cause significant distress, impairs functioning, and may even cause the patient not to commit to the treatment. However, you can help your wife or your mother with cancer who is suffering from depression by following the recommendations below.
- Encourage her to have treatment for depression and continue until symptoms of depression improve. If there is no improvement in two to three weeks, ask the doctor for an alternative cure.
As important as it is to have support throughout treatment, perhaps more important is an ongoing sustainable support system that the patient can count on throughout recovery. — Allison Abrams, LCSW-R
- Introduce mild exercise like daily walks in order to promote physical activity.
- Becoming pessimistic and feeling hopeless regarding treatment are signs of depression and will get better with proper treatment.
- Always reassure her that with treatment and medication compliance, she will again feel better.
- If possible, always be with her during follow-ups and treatments providing her with transportation and company to cheer her up.
Things You Should Avoid Doing
If there are things you can do, there are also some things you must not do
- Force her to talk when she is not ready.
- Feel guilty or blame another person for feeling depressed.
- Tell her to cheer up when she is sad.
Cancer indeed could have a significant impact on the life of a woman with cancer and her family, especially if she is mothering children. Besides the depression brought by her cancer, the burden of leaving her children behind at an early age could add to the stress that should not be overlooked by the caregiver and family. They cannot handle the pressure, anxiety, and depression alone.
Therapy is a positive and important step we can take to help counteract the emotional and mental effects of a cancer diagnosis. — Maia Delmoor, MS, LPC, CAADC
It is essential to assure the patient that you are there to support her and help her get through the depression. Cancer is hard to handle alone, and so are the depression and loneliness brought by her fears and the disease itself.