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Nursing Essay: Impact Of Cancer On Family


Prepare a nursing essay analysing the impact of the cancer experience on the family and support strategies.

  • Select one cancer or a group of people.
  • Take a holistic perspective exploring the physical, psychological and social impact.
  • Explore at least one strategy that can support the family
  • Integrate policies/guidance and research evidence to support the family during this time.


Introduction to Nursing Essay
Several diseases have the characteristics of abnormal cell development which divides itself uncontrollably and it can harm body tissues, such diseases are collectively called cancer. Globally cancer has been considered as second leading causes of death as it spreads rapidly throughout the body (Patrick, 2019). This essay aims to identify a cancer patient and analyse the impact of it on the patient's family. This essay will analyse the impact of cancer on the family and will discuss some support strategies for them. In this essay, a wife suffering from breast cancer will be taken into consideration. The impact of her breast cancer on her husband, children and family will be thoroughly analysed. Once the impact is analysed, strategies to support the family will be explored and policies and guidance to support the family will be integrated. In-depth research will be done to find pieces of evidence regarding the policies and guidelines that will help support the family of the patient.

Impact of Breast Cancer on the Family
Breast cancer is caused when there is an abnormal cell development in either the lobules or ducts of the breast. Glands that produce milk are called lobules and the path that carries milk is called ducts. Fatty tissues or fibres connecting tissues are the areas where there are chances of occurring breast cancer. Breast cancer destroys the tissues in the breast and then spread to the underarms. There are many symptoms of breast cancer such as breast pain, reddening of the skin around the breast, discharge of blood from nipples, flaking of breast skin, a sudden change in the breast size, changes in the appearance of the skin (Adam Felman, 2019). Many of these symptoms are visible but many a time one cannot identify or notice the symptoms of breast cancer. This leads to the spreads of cancer so much that it becomes life-threatening. Breast cancer is common causes to women the age range of 20 to 30 years. All the cancers have various stages, similarly, breast cancer also has four-stage. Stage zero is the initial stage where few or no symptoms are visible and stage four is the situation where cancer has spread over other body parts.

When the wife is suffering from breast cancer, the physical impact is not only on her alone. Her family and her caregivers are also affected by her breast cancer diagnosis. Carers are the person who takes care of a person when they are sick. When the wife is diagnosed with breast cancer, her family becomes her caregiver. Caregiving during cancer can be a hectic task leading to frustration and loss of physical health. The carer or family of the wife can end up being diagnosed with some health issues (Watanabe et al., 2020). The common physical impact on the carers is disturbances in sleep, pain, loss of physical strength, weight loss, and fatigue. The carer or family experiences a lot of exhaustion and tiredness because they have to constantly look after the sick wife. Other physical impacts are a pain in the back, blood pressure problem, stress, shoulder issues, arthritis, indigestion, lower body pain and so on. There is also physical impairment experienced by the carers of a cancer patient. If the wife requires to be taken care at night then the carer or family will have to compromise their sleep. This can lead to lack of concentration while giving care to the wife and can lead to some major accidents.

Along with, all these painful physical impacts carers will go through immense psychological impact as well. The whole experience can be stressful to the wife as well as her family and it can give rise to frustration and anger. Diagnosis of cancer can trigger various negative reaction and can prove to be harmful to the psychology of the wife and her family. The carer and family of the wife are at a high risk of clinical depression and anxiety (Wo?niak & I?ycki, 2014). Factor like age, duration, gender, increased responsibility is the driver of depression among the carers and the family. Psychological distress because of anxiety is also an increasing problem among the carers and family of the patient. It has been found that several carers are associated with anxiety disorder, traumas, anger, sadness and fear.

The social impact is the loss of normal life and the negative relationship between the carer and family of the wife. When there is physical and psychological disruption going on than it is obvious that it will impact the social life of the carer and family. The increasing pain, frustration and anger can lead to the straining of the relationship between the carer and other family members. This can have a negative impact on the relationship with the wife as well. The responsibility of caregiving requires the carer or family members to compromise their social life. The society also tends to keep distance from the wife and her family know that she has cancer (The Lancet Oncology, 2016). There is a drastic effect on the social life of the carer or family because of the physical and psychological impact. The carers and families are left with no time to take care of their social needs. This has resulted in the isolation and loneliness among the carers and family members. Carer and family members are often required to give up social activities to be there for the wife. The relation between the husband and wife may deteriorate no matter how well functioning they were. It is evident that one impact leads to the other impact and the physical, psychological and social impacts are interlinked.

Strategies That Can Be Supportive For the Family of Cancer Patient
It is very crucial to support the wife as well as the family during a tough time. There are many coping strategies that the wife and her family can use for support during the cancer experience. Seeking social support was the best strategies used by the families and women used to cope with breast cancer. Patients diagnosed with breast can use various strategies to cope with the physical, psychological and social stress. The strategy that can be used to support the family is seeking social support. Social support is a very crucial aspect that can be effective in supporting the family at the time of distress. However, in many cases, the family is hesitant to ask for social support during cancer even when social support is ready to provide help willingly (Boatemaa et al., 2020). The social support uses participatory design to develop technology, which increases their utilisation. The social will help the wife and family to improve their emotional health and reduce stress. This is because the social support received from the family, friends, and healthcare givers is a crucial source of support the wife during breast cancer. As the wife experiences fear and uncertainty because of the diagnosis, the need for social support is very high. The wife and her family will experience pain and physical changes, the need for social support is higher. When the wife is diagnosed with cancer she may have the feeling of being abandoned by her husband or her family. At such times social support will prove to be a very effective strategy.

When the wife is diagnosed with breast cancer, then she starts getting isolated and lonely. This is because the people around her will start treating her differently. She is unable to communicate with her friends regarding her disease. Many a time she will be misjudged, avoided and feared by the people (Hinzey, Gaudier-Diaz, Lustberg, & DeVries, 2016). This will result in the low self-esteem of the wife and increased depression. These impacts will further deteriorate her health and it might be difficult to get well, all these eventually affects her family. The family will also face the problem of not being able to communicate with the people because they avoid them. This will lead to misunderstanding and confusion between the family and the people around. While all these adversities create a negative environment, social support will provide an opportunity for the family. They will provide the opportunity for the family to communicate their problems to other people and make them understand. This can prove to be very helpful for the family in the time of distress.

There are different types of social support; expression of positivity, acknowledgement of feelings, encouragement, offering advice and information, materials aid and reciprocal and mutual help. All these social supports are given as per the psychological situation of the patient and the family. It is very crucial to identify the appropriate support system because all the systems are not effective in every case (Sajadian, RajiLahiji et al., 2017). All the support systems are not capable of is reducing stress at the same level because of several situational factors. In the case of a person suffering from cancer different kind of social support have varied effects on the patient and the family. The appropriate support need can be identified based on the financial requirement, emotional requirement, tangible requirements and motivational requirements. Despite the desirability of accessing the type of social support to be provided it is not possible to access the only simple investigation. A cancer patient needs to be carefully confronted and their requirements have to be diagnosed carefully. It is important to identify the exact need of the wife and family's requirements so that social support can be provided effectively.

When the wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer the most commonly advised practice is complementary and integrative therapies. This was done as supportive care to manage the side effects related to the treatment of breast cancer. In recent time there has been a growing usage of integrative therapy to supports the patient and the family during and after breast cancer. Complementary therapies are the conventional medical procedures used to cure breast cancer. While integrative therapies are additional support therapies that enhance the physical and mental well-being of the wife and her family (CTCA, 2018). The Society of Integrative Oncology (SIO) introduced practice guidelines in the year 2014, for the patients and carers regarding the usage of integrative therapies. The guidelines provide the specific usage of different integrative therapies based on facilities available. These guidelines were drawn up after the systematic analysis of reviews of different breast cancer cases between the years 1990 to 2013.

Various integrative therapies can be used to support the family in this distressing time. Both the family and the wife can suffer from anxiety and depression during the cancer period and after the treatment. Along with sadness, helplessness, anger and frustration, they will suffer from physical trauma as well. Meditation, relaxation, yoga, massages are the integrative therapies that can be practised by the family to tackle psychological and physical issues. Another practice that can be done by the family is making shared decisions regarding the treatments. If the family gets involved with the decision making then the wife will get the sense of belonging and is good for her health (Al-Bahri, Al-Moundhri, & Al-Azri, 2018). There are different methods of treatment for cancer surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. These treatments have their side effects and it varies from person to person. The research evidence and policies suggest that the wife and her family has to take decision together. This ensures that in case of any mishap there should be no room for guilt and blame. The guidelines and policies make sure that the wife and her family is well supported so that they can cope with breast cancer.

To conclude, it can be said that breast cancer is a common kind of cancer that most affect women. In this essay, a wife suffering from breast cancer is taken into consideration and the impact on her family is discussed. The carer and family of the wife go through immense hardship during this time. It is obvious that the wife will suffer some painful experiences because of her disease. At the same time, her disease will also have a physical, psychological and social impact on her family. Her relations with her family and other people may also get negatively affected because of her disease. This is the reason social support is required by her family to support the financial and emotionally. The type of social support to be provided depends on the requirements of the wife and her family. There are also guidelines given to support her family in this time of crisis.

Adam Felman, A. (2019). Breast cancer: Symptoms, causes, and treatment. Retrieved February 9, 2021, from website:

Al-Bahri, A., Al-Moundhri, M., & Al-Azri, M. (2018). The Role of Patients’ Families in Cancer Treatment Decision-Making: Perspectives among Eastern and Western families. Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal [SQUMJ], 17(4), 383.

Boatemaa Benson, R., Cobbold, B., Opoku Boamah, E., Akuoko, C. P., & Boateng, D. (2020). Challenges, Coping Strategies, and Social Support among Breast Cancer Patients in Ghana. Retrieved February 9, 2021, from Advances in Public Health website:

CTCA. (2018). Reduce Side Effects: Integrative Cancer Therapies. Retrieved February 9, 2021, from Cancer Treatment Centers of America website:

Hinzey, A., Gaudier-Diaz, M. M., Lustberg, M. B., & DeVries, A. C. (2016). Breast cancer and social environment: getting by with a little help from our friends. Breast Cancer Research, 18(1).

Patrick, C. (2019). Cancer Causes, Types, Treatment, Symptoms & Signs. Retrieved February 9, 2021, from MedicineNet website:

Sajadian, A., RajiLahiji, M., Motaharinasab, A., Kazemnejad Eklily, A., & Haghighat, S. (2017). Breast Cancer Coping Strategies after Diagnosis: A Six-month Follow-up. Multidisciplinary Cancer Investigation, 1(4), 12–16.

The Lancet Oncology. (2016). Perceptions of cancer in society must change. The Lancet Oncology, 17(3), 257.

Watanabe, K., Katayama, K., Yoshioka, T., & Narimatsu, H. (2020). Impact of individual background on the unmet needs of cancer survivors and caregivers – a mixed-methods analysis. BMC Cancer, 20(1).

Wo?niak, K., & I?ycki, D. (2014). Cancer: a family at risk. Menopausal Review, 4, 253–261.


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