Cultural traditions influence caregiving with cancer patients

Posted by Sheryl M Ness, MA, RN @smness, Oct 3, 2014

Culture has a major influence on us as individuals and as groups. Think about the traditions you cherish, everything from family events, foods that nurture you, to remedies that sooth you.

More than likely, cultural traditions influence how you care for yourself and how family members care for you. During your cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery, cultural traditions may play a key role in helping you feel cared for and loved.

I have vivid memories of my mom caring for me when I was sick as a child. She had certain things that she did that I still think of every time I’m not feeling well.

I remember resting under the covers of a warm blanket on the couch with heavy socks to keep my feet warm, eucalyptus ointment on my chest — covered with a scarf, sipping on hot chicken soup and spoons of honey with lemon for my throat. She always relied on a few home remedies to treat sickness.

In my life, I’ve always felt a source of strength from family. When a stressful event occurs, family is always present. I see this with extended family as well, with cousins, aunts and uncles all coming together to support anyone in the family who is going through a health crisis. I know this is a cultural tradition rooted in both of my parent’s families.

Spirituality and culture are also closely related. As a cancer survivor, you may find that connecting to your spiritual values and traditions may help to get you through the tough days and bring you a new sense of connection to what’s most important to you.

It’s vital to have a sense of meaning and purpose in your life, especially during this time. So many times, patients tell me that their spirituality was one of the most important factors that helped get them through the really difficult days.

It’s important to feel a connection to who you are and what you value, especially during times of stress and illness. Think back to when you were first diagnosed. How did you feel? What brought you comfort? What did friends and family members do that made you feel secure and loved?


Read more here on the Living with Cancer blog

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