How Coaching Helped Ariane Support her Family…and Herself

By Cancer Foundation on June 26 / 2019

[Cancer, Cancer Coaching, Caregivers, Families, Uncategorized]Comments

Ariane and her father at her graduation 

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, it can affect each member of the family very differently. While finding out that her father had cancer was already difficult enough for Ariane, it was complicated further by the fact that she was living so far away from home.

She remembers the exact day it happened; she was on the bus leaving work when she received a text from her mom. It said to call home.

Ariane immediately knew something was very wrong, as she talked with her parents on the phone every day. Her dad had been having digestive problems, but she never expected this – pancreatic cancer.

“I zoned out,” Ariane says. “It didn’t sink in. Then I started to cry, and didn’t want to talk about it.”

Not only was she in shock, she felt guilty for not being there with her family; pursuing her career as a legislative clerk in Ottawa meant that her family was far away in Quebec. “I felt like I was letting my dad and my family down,” Ariane says. “I didn’t know how to cope, and I didn’t know how to help.”

It was fear, on top of worry, on top of guilt, and Ariane was carrying all of it. The weight became too much to bear. “I was freaking out,” she says.

So that’s when Ariane turned to a Cancer Coach.

“Learning about Cancer Coaching was the best news I had gotten in the weeks after my dad’s diagnosis,” Ariane says. She describes it as nothing short of a revelation.

“Cancer Coaching is a safe place. I felt so much better after just the first session,” she says. “You can talk about anything, you can cry, or you can just vent about cancer.”

And along with providing emotional support, Ariane’s Coach helped her learn practical strategies she could use to communicate with and support her family. She discovered how to stay in the moment with her dad, listen better to her family’s concerns, understand what they were going through, and better support her mom and her sister.

“I also discovered I needed to take some time for myself,” Ariane says. Her coach encouraged her to journal and connected her with the Cancer Foundation’s caregiver’s workshop, where she learned to use meditation and yoga to feel better.

And most importantly, she learned not to compare herself to other caregivers. “I realized I’m not a bad person just because I couldn’t be there 24/7 for my dad,” she says.

A cancer diagnosis can change everything for a family, even for those not diagnosed and who are not a primary caregiver. But Cancer Coaching can be tailored to anyone who needs it, just like it empowered Ariane to cope and to help. “It’s made a big positive impact on my mental health,” Ariane says.

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