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A Family’s Coping Tool

Recently I attended a conference for patients and caregivers given by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. During one of the breakout sessions, attendees were openly sharing what has (and has not!) been helpful to them since entering the “cancer world.”

One caregiver shared a helpful policy that he started after his father was diagnosed with lymphoma: no talking about cancer on the weekends. He found that he, his dad, and mom were always talking about his dad’s cancer in one way or another…and that cancer was now the only thing that they could connect on. While this caregiver understood why he and his family were so focused on the disease, he also realized that they were missing out on so many other important and interesting conversations. When his dad was feeling relatively good, he felt that it was important for the three of them to make time to discuss other topics; weekends seemed natural, this was a time when his dad did not have doctor’s appointments and/or treatments.

During his talk, he also shared that this was not always an easy task. He and his family had to take small steps at first. They started with 5:00 on Fridays through dinner time…and then through bedtime, with the goal being to get through Sunday night without talking about cancer.

This policy proved to be very helpful to this particular family. They were able to find time for other conversations, and even laughs…and through this process, they felt that they got to know each other a little better.

Is this something that you would be interested in trying? Why or why not? I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this coping tool and what has been helpful to you and/or your family.



Stephanie Stern, LCSW-C is an oncology social worker and the moderator of The MetaCancer Foundation’s Mosaic Online Support Community.

The MetaCancer Foundation provides information and resources focused on the unique psychological and emotional aspects of living with metastatic cancer. Mosaic is a free online support service for people living with metastatic cancer and their loved ones.

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