Cancer is a terrifying and life changing thing to consider. It takes a huge physical and emotional toll on all those who are affected by it. So how do you handle the situation when your family member, friend or someone important to you is diagnosed with cancer? There are a few things you can do to offer all the support your loved one needs to make it through this challenge.
- Be There. One of the best ways to show your support for your loved one is to be both emotionally and physically available to them. Your loved one is going through a difficult and terrifying time right now and by just having your prescreens with them gives them strength and comfort.
- Take care not to make them sick. People suffering with cancer have an extremely compromised immune system. These individuals have a difficult time fighting even minor ailments like colds because their immune systems are so weak. If you think you are sick stay away from your loved one. If you have been around other sick people you should also keep your distance because you may be a carrier for the germ even though you are not sick.
- Write. It goes without saying that you want to be there 100% of the time for your loved one but the both of you realize that is not always possible. Phone calls and visits are nice, but a cancer patient is not always up to that. They are very drained and tired from their treatments and can’t always summon the energy needed to visit and talk with you. Write them a letter or send them a card. This way you can still offer your support from afar and they have something tangible that serves as a reminder that they are loved and supported.
- Cook for them. Simple tasks such as cleaning, purchasing groceries and cooking for themselves become very difficult if not impossible for cancer patients when they begin receiving treatment. As mentioned before they are weakened and exhausted from their treatments. Helping your loved ones with these simple tasks can take an enormous load off their shoulders. Plus cooking them a tasty meal would be very appreciated.
- Avoid saying the cliche. It has been pounded into us from birth to respond to someone else’s difficult situation with these two sayings: “I know how you feel” and “Everything will be ok”. Both of these are inappropriate to say to a cancer patient. Unless you actually have been diagnosed with cancer before, you absolutely do not know how your loved one feels so avoid saying that you do. You can let your loved one know you appreciate how difficult their situation is by saying other things. Never tell a cancer patient that everything will be ok because you have no way of knowing that and neither do they. Cancer can be fatal and everyone is painfully aware of that fact so by trying to tell your loved one that everything will be ok it can be upsetting because it comes across as a lie.
Now that we have covered some basics on how to support your loved one, it’s important to take the steps required to care for yourself as well. While you may not be the one diagnosed with cancer it can be very exhausting mentally and physically for you to be supportive of your loved one. If you wish to continue offering them support you need to be prepared.
- Take a breather. Supporting your loved one can be very taxing on your well being so its important to remember to take the time to relax and recuperate. Take a deep breath and do something you find relaxing like taking a warm bath or watching a movie while snuggled up on the couch.
- Keep it light. Cancer is a very serious thing and knowing your loved one is suffering because of it can make your outlook on life turn a little sour. No one should have to deal with something so difficult but the fact is, they do. Accept this fact and move on, try to remember that life is full of wonderful things and not just unfortunate circumstances.
- Cry about it. If you’re having too much trouble accepting that your loved one has cancer, let your feelings be known. You may not want to show your loved one how upset you are so cry, scream or punch a pillow in privacy to let your feelings out. It is damaging to your health to bottle up how you truly feel so while you may be able to hide it from others, don’t hide it from yourself.
- Make time for others. Our first thoughts when we find out someone is sick is usually to remain by there side constantly but this is not the best solution for cancer patients. These patients need time to themselves to rest and you need time for not only yourself, but the other important people in your life. By spending time with the other loved ones of your life, they can support you and help you over the road blocks you face when finding out your loved one has cancer.
Through all the difficulties you face and all the rough patches you help your loved ones through during their trying battle with cancer, keep hope in your heart and you will be able to make it through the challenges.