Single and cancer: how do you deal with cancer as a single

Getting cancer is bad enough. If you also have to do it without a partner, it is extra difficult. However, without help you will not be able to fight the disease if you have to go through chemotherapy, operations and/or radiation. Tips for getting through cancer when you’re single.

Make sure there are people to assist you

When I was told that I had breast cancer, I no longer knew where to look. That will happen to everyone. Cancer means you don’t know if you will get better again. And that you don’t know what your future looks like. But in most cases it also means that you have to undergo heavy treatments that are quite damaging. Having to do that alone is actually an impossible task. Therefore, when you are alone, try to mobilize as many people in your area as possible. I only did that when I really saw no point in it anymore, but do that from the moment you know you are ill.

Don’t just go to research

Investigations are not only difficult, they often also mean that you hear things that you need to sort out carefully. So do not just go to an examination, but also do not go to doctors. Have someone come with you who you trust and who you know will ask the right questions for you if you are at a loss. Moreover, it is nice to talk things through if someone has been with you, so that you can also talk things over.

The treatments: it’s nice when someone is there

I found the chemotherapy horrible. Because I knew how I was going to feel afterwards, but also because it is simply not comfortable to be on an IV for hours and sometimes to be completely punctured. Some people go to their chemo treatments alone, but I couldn’t. I needed someone to talk to me, to distract me when I was at a loss and to let me be who I was. When I had to have surgery, my brother stayed with me until I was wheeled into the operating room and was there again when I woke up. That gives you the feeling that you are cared about and it also gives you some support in an already somewhat difficult world. I personally didn’t mind the radiation treatments so I endured them alone. By the way, it depends on the radiation treatment and what type of cancer you have whether you can go alone or not. Some people need to be transported by ambulance and often like to have someone with them. That is very personal. Follow your heart and see if there is someone who can join you.

Eating and shopping when you have cancer and you are alone

At one point I was so weakened by the chemo that I could no longer cope, practically speaking. I could no longer go to the store for food and if I had just made it, I would have had no energy at all to cook. The result was that I became increasingly weak and thinner. Try to avoid that. Ask if other people can cook an extra meal for you. Or if you have really good friends, ask if you can stay with them for a few days after chemo and they can take care of you. Another alternative is to provide a table cover. Then you are guaranteed to get food every day. I personally didn’t like it very much (also because the chemo affects your taste and smell) but you do get some good stuff. There are also ready-made meals from Appetito and related organizations. Sometimes there are also people in the area who cook for others for a fee. If you think that is a good plan, ask them if they would like to cook for you. Eating well is a must in a time of heavy treatments.

Keeping your house clean

If you are alone and you also have to keep your home clean while you are undergoing chemotherapy or have just had surgery, that is often not a good combination. Of course, not everyone is equally ill from the treatments, but if you feel like you are losing strength after the first time, request home care. The people from that organization not only ensure that you end up in a clean bed, they also talk to you and can indicate whether or not you are doing well. Use that. If you already had a maid, keep her or, if you can afford it, ask her to come more often.

Psychological support for cancer

In addition to all practical matters, having cancer is also primarily an emotional event. When you are alone it is difficult to share your fears. But it has to be done, because times are hard enough. Ask friends to take turns visiting you. You don’t burden them constantly, but you can tell your story. Sometimes it just gives relief to talk about normal things and not always just about illness and misery.

Request taxi transport

My treatments took place in Amsterdam, while I live in Friesland. Driving there myself was an impossible task for me. Even when I had to start the radiation treatment, I could not drive to Leeuwarden every day. That was too stressful, but my operated chest and arm simply couldn’t handle that yet. Most health insurers reimburse taxi transport in connection with oncological treatments. Look for a company that doesn’t make you wait for hours, because then you won’t be happy about just having chemo. If there is someone in your area who is willing to take you, you can also declare these costs to your health insurer. This sometimes not only compensates for the high costs, but then you can also accommodate the person driving with some pocket money or a gift.

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