“Following the death of BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Rachael Bland at the age of 40, a swell of support and condolence messages have been posted on social media.
Her podcast, You, Me and the Big C, which she co-presented with Deborah James and Lauren Mahon, was, and still is, hugely popular.” (Source: BBC. (06/09/18))
The regretful passing of Rachel Bland, a very popular presenter at the BBC, has brought back again the conversation about why is that many of us are not aware or capable of talking openly about cancer and its impact on our lives.
Patients and caregivers face this dilemma on a daily basis. What makes this conversation so challenging? Is it the anxiety to the reaction of others (responses varying from full of pity to horror and unwanted stories regarding other people’s experiences or advice)? Is it that many of us are not fully available for entertaining lengthy and detailed discussions about it (prognosis, treatments, effects, etc.) with additional sources that are not our medical team? Is that we want to try to keep an appearance of “normality” in our lives, even when we know this is leaking away through our fingers?
Facing cancer is challenging. Coping with treatment and its impact in our body, mind and emotions is difficult. Talking about our fears is hard. Solving practical issues during our therapy period, and even during recovery, may require a physical and mental strength which may not be there any more. Doing all these tasks when the prospects are that our life is coming to an end earlier than expected will magnify the problem many times over, and this can happen in a very short period of time.
As Mrs. Bland mentioned in one of her last conversations, one of the core difficulties in her circumstances rather than the apprehensiveness about the sole fact of dying, is being troubled about our loved ones. We, who have provided, cared and protected loved children, partner and parents till now might not be able to do so in the future. This is a dreadful feeling which fills the patient with a sense of urgency and helplessness.
This is the reason why is so important for patients and their carers, family and close friends to unlock a channel of compassionate communication. Talking is important for many reasons… including the discussion of solutions and suggestions that could help those who will be left behind.
However, the positive impact of communicating with loved ones cannot be underestimated by the patient on mere “practical grounds”. Communicating openly and lovingly with others provides the patient with an increased peace of mind. It also allows the use of the remaining time (being this short or long), in more pleasant and meaningful way.
Patients, their caregivers, their family and close friends can all prioritise in making “good moments to remember” for both the patient and their loved ones. That may become an useful and rewarding time to all parties involved, and therefore, must not be taken too lightly or be played down because it could be “short”.
It is worthwhile for any human being using every day for creating “good memories”. When a person is facing cancer, this task may take a new beautiful meaning and purpose.
BBC. (06/09/18) “You, me and the Big C: ‘Like listening to friends in my living room’”. Available on line at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45436383?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cywd23g0q11t/cancer&link_location=live-reporting-story [Accessed 08/09/18]