To help the families of cancer-afflicted patients deal with the trauma and overcome grief, it is equally important to simultaneously deal with the emotional issues of families of cancer patients, experts said.
Discussing the integration of psycho-oncology -- a discipline that deals with the emotional responses of patients, their families and staff at all stages of the disease --with mainstream treatment, experts are of the view that the mental health of the families needs to be given priority as well.
"Intense focus is on the patient and the requirements of spouses and other relatives are compromised. Cancer families need professional help to identify the problems and share their experience," surgical oncologist Gautam Mukhopadhyay said.
This is because, spouses, in particular, are not able to open up and talk about their own feelings with the cancer patient due to the latter's ordeal.
Mukhopadhyay said counseling prevents the patients and their families from sinking into depression. Another way by which the above objective could be attained is using performing arts as a form of therapy.
Amita Dutt, the director of the Rabindra Bharati University-affiliated Performing Art Therapy Centre, channels dance, drama and music as therapy for cancer patients and families to forget reality and improve the quality of life.
"There are two ways to do this: the person could watch and enjoy or they could participate. It helps them to forget depression, the reality and takes them to a different world. The family members and caregivers, too, can get involved in this therapy," Dutt said.
The experts recently participated in a discussion "Integrating Psycho-Oncology into Mainstream Cancer Care" organized by the Bengal Oncology Foundation. The discussion also featured actors of the Bengali film "Anubrato Bhalo Acho?" which explores the experience of the partners of cancer survivors and is due for release.