Cancer is a life-threatening illness. As per WHO fact sheet, cancer is the second leading cause of human death worldwide, accounting for 9.6 million deaths a year or one in six deaths. Alarming, isn’t it?
Cancer as a disease is increasing globally, resulting in tremendous financial, emotional, and physical strain on individuals, caregivers, families, and communities.
Table of Content
- What is closing the care gap?
- Difficulties that cancer patients come across.
- How can you close the gap for someone?
What is closing the care gap?
This year’s “World Cancer Day” theme is closing the care gap for cancer patients. This theme was created to focus on cancer care problems globally and discover measures to resolve these problems.
Since cancer as a disease is increasing, there is a strong need to create an environment and health system to support this.
As a community, we should come together to help cancer patients and caregivers to cope up from the problems that come along with cancer diagnosis.
Difficulties that cancer patients come across.
Financial Burden: With cancer comes unseen expenses pertaining to surgery, medicines, and therapies. Many of us are unprepared financially to take this load. Many patients refuse to take the treatment because they cannot afford it. Sadly, this is the most significant gap that cancer patients often face, especially those who are from the low-income group.
Physical Stress: Cancer treatment, medicines, and follow-up therapies are very tiring. The patients grow very weak as they lose their appetite. For patients with no family members nearby, it becomes difficult to cope with routine work and travel every time to undertake tests and then collect reports.
Emotional setback: It is a massive setback for an individual to accept a cancer diagnosis. It is generally heart-breaking to accept the diagnosis due to the life-threatening nature of the disease. Patients’ post-diagnosis are usually depressed.
Social withdrawal: There is so much trauma that an individual undergoes from diagnosis to treatment and post therapies that one tends to seclude themselves from society. At the same time, social circles around cancer patients tend to be less considerate towards them. A considerable gap gradually builds between a patient and his social circles.
Work Life: Undergoing cancer treatment is demanding in terms of time and energy. It gets exhausting for the patient to manage all the commitments to the treatment and towards their professional life. Striking a balance between the both is challenging.
Fear of Recurrence: A cancer patient suffers from a constant fear of relapse. This fear keeps their anxiety levels high, which is not suitable for their overall recovery process. The anxiety levels in a cancer patient may shoot up with minor physical discomfort too. This is a big gap that should be addressed.
How can you close the gap for someone?
Cancer is a global health issue that can happen to anybody across age groups, income levels, and nations. It does not distinguish between people.
Hence, it is essential to do our bit in closing the cancer care gap, thereby creating a significant impact on society.
- Closing the financial gap: In India, the most significant gap that a cancer patient face is the financial burden that comes along with the cancer diagnosis. Due to the high cost of treatment, people refuse to take the treatment. It is, therefore, essential to spread awareness about creating a contingency fund so that some portion of the treatment can be dealt with. Further, with proper research and networking, one may come across certain groups that offer cancer-care related services at subsidized rates for those who need them.
- Awareness about Cancer: Not all types of cancers are life-threatening. Timely screening and treatment can prevent and control cancer at an early stage. Basic awareness about cancer and early screening programmes should be conducted at corporate levels, educational and health care institutes. So that, precious lives can be saved.
- Support Groups: The care group concept is comparatively new in India. A care group or support group is a cancer community comprising cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers. A support group can be of great help to people who have isolated themselves during their journey of fighting cancer. It can boost the morale of a cancer patient. If you come across a cancer patient or caregiver, encourage them to join a support group.
- Support at workplace: Being considerate towards cancer patient at work, can be of great help to them. Providing flexible work hours or work from home option can help patients to mange a balance between their work and treatment. Additionally, helping them resume their work post treatment with providing them suitable assignments can help them in a big way to make a professional come back in case of any gap taken due to treatment.
- Be Available for a cancer patient: When you know somebody is undertaking cancer treatment, be available for them. Talking to them, sharing their views, and understanding what they are going through may help them cope with the emotional stress they may be experiencing. If possible, accompany them while they travel for screening and treatment; you may get their reports collected so that they can rest.
- Motivate them to be optimistic: With cancer comes a lot of negativity that makes it impossible to look beyond the disease. All aspirations that an individual has may shatter. But you must try to motivate and boost the morale of cancer patients and caregiver around you. You must tell them that life is beyond this disease and every day is precious.
- Prevention: Cancer can be prevented through regular health check-ups, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and avoiding the consumption of tobacco and other harmful substances. One can spread awareness about these preventive measures and help prevent and control cancer.
Spreading awareness and sharing helpful information about cancer among your social groups can be a useful step towards closing the care gap of cancer. However, we need to widen our horizons and spread positivity on a larger scale. If you feel moved by the cause, join a community, and help others, give them the care they may need.