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Understanding ‘The Ripple Effect’ Of A Cancer Diagnosis

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, a lot of things happen. They will go through a wide range of emotions, and will often need support as they process and come to terms with what is a life-changing diagnosis. It’s something a lot of people aren’t comfortable talking about, and it can be a difficult time in their lives.

When we talk about cancer, both as individuals and in the media, pretty much all of the focus is centred around the person who has cancer. As, in many cases, it should be. But what we believe is missing from the conversation is the people around them. Their loved ones – spouses, parents, children, friends and family, who are all affected by the diagnosis too.

Taking On The Role Of Caregiver

When someone has cancer the role of the person closest to them tends to shift. They take on the role of caregiver, the primary person who looks after the cancer patient through their journey, meeting their physical, mental and emotional needs along the way. This is often a spouse, child or another immediate family member, but it could also be a close friend. If this is you, then it can feel very overwhelming. You find yourself having to navigate the unfamiliar environment of medicine and treatment at a time of heightened worry, as well as making sure you understand the terminology and procedures so that you can support your loved one in making informed decisions. Add onto that the stress of organising logistics, attending appointments and keeping ‘normal’ life going as much as possible, and being there to nurture and support someone you care about while they’re struggling. Being a caregiver for someone with cancer is something we do out of love, but there’s no doubt it has a profound impact on our lives.


While we optimistically hold onto a time of recovery and a return to wellness, waves of grief and incredibly common for people close to someone with cancer, as well as the sufferer themselves. Grief is an emotional response to any form of loss, and so changes that happen in our relationships, work, social activities and ourselves can trigger a wide range of emotions, including grief. Grief for the person with a cancer diagnosis ripples out from them, with many mourning the loss of activities, relationships or things wish they had done or said.

Understanding Loss

Of course, we all hope for a happy outcome from cancer treatment. And many times, there is! But many cases of cancer are terminal, which means everyone in the sufferer’s life will be affected by their loss when the time comes. If there are young children in the picture, then this may be the first experience they have of serious illness or death – a big event that needs to be handled delicately, especially if it’s their parent who is sick.

In our case, Jill had five children (Grace - 4, Amy - 8, Jemma - 20, Lyndsey - 27, and James - 29) and four grandchildren (Elowen – 1, Sofia – 1, Amelie – 4, and Ella – 9) of varying ages. Some of her older children, like Jemma, Lyndsey and James, were able to understand what was happening, and while it wasn’t at all easy, it wasn’t their first time dealing with death. But some of Jill’s children and grandchildren were young enough that they had never experienced seeing someone they loved struggle with a long-term illness, nor did they understand what death was. That made the whole process more difficult and heartbreaking for the older children, who helped explain what was happening while trying to handle their own feelings.

Cancer is a terrible thing for anyone to go through, but at Jill’s Fundraising Journey we understand exactly how tough it can be for people experiencing the ripple effect of someone else’s diagnosis. That’s one of the reasons we founded the charity in our mother’s name – to offer support to those affected by a cancer diagnosis. Our holiday home is available for free for those with a cancer diagnosis and their families, so they can enjoy some respite time, make memories and relax, without the shadow of cancer hanging over them for a little while. If you would like to know more, just click here to get in touch, or click here to book your stay.


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