When a Loved One Has Cancer (or Another Serious Disease): How to Prepare Yourself and Handle the Emotional Impact


Nearly 1.5 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to American Cancer Society estimates. The diagnosis (with cancer or any serious illness) will greatly impact not only the individual but also their entire family.

'When one member of a family has cancer, the whole family is affected and, in fact, psychologists consider these family members to be secondary patients,'" writes the American Psychological Association.

Family members not only have to deal with the emotional and physical care of the patient, but they must also take on new roles at home, care for children, and keep things running smoothly, all while maintaining a positive attitude for the sake of those around them.

When your loved one has cancer, you may also begin to feel survivor's guilt (why isn't it me?) and guilt for feeling any stress or concern for yourself, given the tough time your loved one is going through.

Of course, you also have to deal with the emotional trauma of seeing your loved one sick. Other common feelings of family members whose loved ones have cancer include:
  • Helplessness
  • Feeling overwhelmed (Can I handle this?)
  • Grief
  • Anger (Why is this happening?)
  • Isolation (No one understands what I'm going through.)


While going through this trying time, The Sedona Method is a highly recommended tool to help you and your loved one with cancer. The program shows you how to easily release all of your fears, guilt, anger even physical pain so that you are completely able to support your loved one in a positive way.

When using The Sedona Method, you should 'first focus on letting go of your feelings about the diagnosis,' says Hale Dwoskin, CEO and director of training of Sedona Training Associates, and then release your need to be in control of the situation.

'After you release on your feelings about the diagnosis, let go of wanting to control the person's experience, and let go of wanting to be controlled by what they are experiencing,' Dwoskin says.

While people with cancer have varying requests for how you can help them (ranging from helping to run their errands, to not telling others about their diagnosis without getting permission, to not stopping by without calling first) there is one request that almost everyone shares: maintaining a sense of normalcy.

This means you should not allow your lives to revolve around the diagnosis. Go about your daily routine. Talk about the small things going on in your lives. Do something fun, laugh and smile (this is not only OK, it's quite beneficial).

'Last,' Dwoskin adds, 'allow yourself to love and support them in having whatever it is they want for themselves.'