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Essay on How Cancer Affects Families

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The phrase everyone dreads and wishes to never hear… you have cancer. Cancer will take you by storm not only affecting you, but your loved ones, nurses, and healthcare providers. It is a beast that can drain you and everyone around you emotionally. Treatment can be exhausting and alters clients and their everyday life. With organizations like The American Cancer Society assist families and clients with everyday needs like transportation and support them in difficult times. Communities really come together in times of stress to help the client and try to relieve the financial burdens of caretakers. This project really opened my eyes and made me a whole new understanding of the trials and tribulations families face in times of adversity.

Health Care Providers and the Effect of Caring for Cancer Patients

Caring for ill patients can be very draining, and it does put a lot of demand on nurses and healthcare providers. Caretakers can experience compassion fatigue,” it can be described as physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion as a result of caring too much.”(Kurzen, 2012) Nurses and healthcare providers experience this because they grow to know the clients and their families very well. The nurses take care of the same patients coming in for treatments and checkups, and they begin to feel like a friend. They will see these clients in happy and rough times, especially children and teens. “You will see them miss out on things kids their age should be doing like going to prom or missing out on football games, but as an oncology nurse I realized it was my job to step up and make them feel as normal as possible.” D. Russell, RN

Emotional Effect of Cancer on the Client’s Loved One

Nothing is harder than seeing a person you love to fight this beast called cancer. Judy Alli goes on to tell me, “It wasn’t fair when I found out my adoptive mom and sister had cancer. I remember being angry at the world, how could the people who chose me and loved me die such a painful death?” It is important to support and love your family or friends during this time, but family members tend to get emotionally drained, so it is important for them to get time off and time to themselves. Judy goes on to say, “ I remember the pain, and hurt I felt with them fighting cancer, especially my sister. She refused all treatment, and she had renal cancer that very quickly went terminal. Even though she was hurting and tired she would get dressed up every Sunday and go to church. That was her thing and it is the way I remember her.”

Emotional and Physiological Effects on the Patient Undergoing Treatment

“August 2012, the day I felt like my world fell apart. This is when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.” Judy had a simple mastectomy done, in a simple mastectomy, “all breast tissue is removed. No lymph node dissection performed.”( B. Timby,2018) “I was so embarrassed, more like humiliated. I felt like my womanhood had been taken away from me. It was like some of my identity was taken away, and I was even embarrassed to take my top off in front of my husband of sixty-five years.” Cancer can make it seem like your identity is being completely taken away, and it can cause patients to become insecure and a complex may be formed. “The only person who made me feel beautiful is my husband Joe he has always been my person in life and I love him.”

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American Cancer Society and How They Help the Community

Cancer is already a big obstacle on its own, but with organizations, they can really make a big impact and help many patients’ families. The American Cancer Society: encourages prevention, provides support, helps people to gain access to care, and helps educate the community on preventive measures for cancer to decrease their risk. (American Cancer Society,2019) The Cancer Society helps families gain access to and find support groups and other ways to ensure all the people involved are receiving proper care and coping in a healthy and safe way. They also relieve caretakers and offer help in transporting patients to all the necessary appointments, plus they also help with finding lodging when clients have appointments at bigger hospitals away from home. The Cancer Society advocates for communities to pursue a healthier lifestyle and teaches healthy eating habits and promotes physical exercise.

The Community Coming Together

In the Permian Basin, we are all one big family, and when they see members struggling they are quick to come together and have fundraisers to bring light to the situation. It could be car washes to golf tournaments, or the Permian Basin coming together. In Midland Texas, “A coalition of anti-breast cancer groups announced Friday this year’s efforts to raise awareness and to encourage women in the Permian Basin to seek early detection of the disease through a series of 14 events in October.” (S. Panta,2016) Events are held to raise awareness and educate the community on topics that aren’t usually addressed until it happens to them. The events are aimed at raising awareness of breast cancer, which the American Cancer Society cited as being the most common form of cancer among American women. The organization also stated that one in eight, or 12 percent, of women in the United States, will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. (S. Panta,2016)

How This Impacted Me

Writing this paper really made me realize how much one diagnosis can change someone’s life forever, I feel so much more aware of the feelings and struggles that families and clients face. When I interviewed my Grandma Judy, I had no idea she was embarrassed by her appearance and how it really affected her confidence including her outlook on life. This experience really made me realize how lucky I am to have a fighter for a Grandma. I was enlightened on how patient care is so important, and how our supporting them could change their whole perspective. When talking to Donald who is an oncology nurse in Las Vegas he really opened my heart to how we need to be nurses and care for patients, but in long term, they become like friends as well. Everyone needs someone, and this really made me realize I picked the right profession because taking care of people and making them feel valued is a priceless feeling.


Whether you are a caretaker, family member, or patient cancer will always be a hard thing to deal with. It can affect your perception of yourself or your outlook on life. It is important that we come together as a community or a friend. This can be a scary situation, but with resources such as the American Cancer Society and other organizations, we can be educated and take measures to make a difference. It is a scary fight, but it’s not a fight you have to fight alone.


  1. Timby, B. K., Smith, N. E., & Smith, D. W. (2018). Introductory medical-surgical nursing. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
  2. Kurzen, C. R. (2012). Contemporary practical/vocational nursing. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Health.
  3. What We Do. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  4. Sterkel, M., Panta, S., & Odessa American. (2016, October 01). Events to shed light on breast cancer. Retrieved from

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