How Can I Support a Loved One After a Cancer Diagnosis?
A cancer diagnosis is not only going to affect the patient, but it will also change the lives of their family and friends. Those that are closest to the patient often want to help them through this difficult time, but it is not always clear what must be done. Read ahead for some tips that you can use to support a loved one that has recently been diagnosed with cancer.
Prepare Yourself First
Failing to process your own emotions or learn about their specific type of cancer could actually make the situation worse. Instead, you should take some time to cope with your own feelings before looking for ways to help. It is also important to carry out some research on their particular type of cancer. Understanding the basics of their disease and their treatment options will allow you to support them more effectively in the future.
One of the most difficult steps in helping a loved one with cancer is actively listening to them. Even if your loved one expresses scary thoughts or is feeling pessimistic, being a “cheerleader” for them and pretending like nothing is wrong is not always the best idea. Actively listening to their side of the story is a vital part of their psychological and emotional health. It is also best to leave suggestions to a minimum unless they specifically ask you for advice.
A cancer diagnosis of any type will result in some major lifestyle changes, and you must remain as flexible as possible when offering to help them or making plans. Cancer and many of its treatments can take an incredible toll on a patient’s body, and this could result in side effects ranging from chronic fatigue to nausea. You should remain aware of the fact that they might need to break plans or even ask you for help at unusual times depending on how their body is reacting to these changes.
Take Care of Yourself
Caregiver stress (caregiver burnout) is extremely common in those closest to cancer patients. This condition often results in guilt, exhaustion, and even anger for those that are not careful. The best way to avoid this condition is to continue eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising, and setting aside some time for yourself. Those that are happier and healthier will be better in a better position to help their loved one.