How to Support a Loved One With Cancer
For individuals living with cancer, having a strong support system is crucial to their journey. A cancer diagnosis often comes as a surprise and shifts the roles we’ve grown accustomed to. As you face this new challenge, the ability to empathize with your loved one’s new diagnosis, fears or concerns and adjustments will create a safe and supportive environment. We’ve put together a list of the top four ways you can help a loved one cope with this change.
Lend a Helping Hand
Despite the severity of the disease and coping with cancer related side effects, life for the person struggling still goes on; recognize that they may need a little extra help. Priorities will shift and some may even need to be put on the back burner. Don’t wait for your loved one to ask for help, as they may feel embarrassed or bothersome reaching out. Any act of kindness, no matter how small, is often deeply appreciated. In lending a hand, be mindful of how you offer help, listen to the other person’s needs and offer to do what you can.
Accompany Them to Appointments
Hospitals and clinics may be perceived as frightening to recently diagnosed patients and being in the waiting room alone may increase anxiety. Offer to attend appointments with your loved one, it can help alleviate unneeded stress and help the person feel cared for. Either way, always be respectful of your loved one’s decision, if they chose to go alone, respect their privacy. If you’re asked to attend, be sure to actively listen and ask questions when appropriate, but allow your loved one to make their own decisions.
Be sure to call any appointment facilities ahead of time to see if there are any new restrictions due to COVID – 19 and if a companion is allowed to accompany the patient to the appointment. Bring masks and hand sanitizer for extra protection from accidental exposure.
Pro tip: Help your loved one remember any important documents they may need. For example, medical documents, scans or tests, identification and insurance documents are often needed.
Humor will Lighten the Mood
Laughter is often the best form of medicine. It can be challenging dealing with the various emotions that follow a cancer diagnosis and its subsequent treatment. More often than not, this disease brings a cloud of grief and sadness. While it is important to be sensitive to your loved one’s need to express grief, be ready to laugh and smile through the journey as well.
Respect Their Need to Be Alone
Following a cancer diagnosis, family and friends often feel the need to shower their loved one with attention and affection. However, it may be overwhelming for them to expend their energy and be present during all of these moments. Be mindful of your loved one’s schedule and their level of sociability. It is okay to kindly let others know when your loved one appears fatigued and encourage them to come another time.
Knowing how to support a loved one through cancer may seem like a daunting challenge. In these moments, it can be difficult to know the right things to say and do. There is a learning curve for both you and your loved one, however, just your presence and willingness to offer support will mean the world to them.