Shared Journeys Communication Guide

Whether you're the patient, spouse, family or friend of someone with cancer, these questions can help open channels of communication and guide your discussions.

Specifically, these conversation starters can help married couples connect with each other when a husband or wife has just received a cancer diagnosis. As you find your way through the shock and into a treatment plan, consider using these questions to help articulate your feelings and health-care needs.

First Questions for Patients

1. What was your first reaction when you heard your diagnosis?

2. How did you feel about your diagnosis after having time to think about it?

3. What did you feel you could share about your news?

a. with your spouse

b. with your children

c. with your parents

d. with your extended family

e. with your loved ones and friends

4. What did you feel you could not share about your news?

a. with your spouse

b. with your children

c. with your parents

d. with your extended family

e. with your loved ones and friends

5. How did you think each of these people (or groups of people) would feel about, or react to, your news?

a. your spouse

b. your children

c. your parents

d. your extended family

e. your loved ones and friends

6. What kind of support would you like or do you need from each of these people (or groups of people)?

a. your spouse

b. your children

c. your parents

d. your extended family

e. your loved ones and friends

7. How has the new caregiver role affected the relationship you have with that person (or groups of people)?

8. What was or is your greatest fear?

Spiritual Assessment Questions for Patient, Spouse and Close Family

1. What is your faith or belief tradition?

2. Do you consider yourself committed to your faith or belief tradition?

3. In what ways does your faith help give meaning to your life?

4. Is your faith tradition important in your life?

5. What influence does faith have on how you care for yourself?

6. How have your beliefs influenced you or your behavior since your diagnosis?

7. How do your beliefs play a role in regaining your health?

8. Are you a part of a faith-based community? If so, is your community a support to you? How?

9. Is there a person, or group of people, in your faith community who is really important to you?

10. How would you like your health-care team to address or incorporate these issues into your care?

First Questions for Spouses, Families, Loved Ones or Friends

1. What was your first reaction after hearing the diagnosis?

2. How did you feel after you had time to think about it?

3. What did you think you could share with the patient that might give comfort?

4. What did you think you couldn’t share with the patient?

5. What do you think the patient was feeling regarding his or her diagnosis?

6. How do you think he or she would want to be treated by you?

7. What kind of support would you like — or do you need — during this time?

8. How has the role of caregiver (if applicable) affected or changed your normal relationship with the patient?

9. What was or is your greatest fear?

Pastor Ken Wolter has more than eight years experience as a hospital and outpatient oncology and palliative care chaplain. He is the founder of Esperas4Cancer.

If you or someone you know needs marital help, Focus on the Family has resources and counseling to assist. You can contact us Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Mountain time) at: 855-771-HELP (4357) or help@FocusOnTheFamily.com.

© 2017 Ken Wolter. Originally published on FocusOnTheFamily.com.

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