How to Support a Loved on Battling Cancer

Divine Magazine
Divine Magazine 8 Min Read

Supporting a friend or family member through cancer is notably a tough experience. It can be hard to know exactly how to help them without crossing a line and becoming controlling and overbearing. No one wants that, but everyone needs someone who can empathise with what they are dealing with and is able to be there for them in whatever way they need.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event. regardless of the type of cancer, the stage of the type of cancer and what the treatment plan is. So being able to help a loved one in a practical way to give them the support they need on this journey is invaluable.

But what are the best ways to help someone who had been diagnosed with cancer?

Listen to What They Need.

The best way to be there for them is to listen to them. Sometimes, talking it through is simply all they need. A shoulder to cry on, an ear to offload on. Don’t underestimate the power of good listening skills. Chances are, this will help them to make sense of what is happening as they try to work through this new information and come to terms with their diagnosis.

Of course, a care package with some thoughtful gifts will always be welcome. Try to buy them things that will come in useful during periods they are unable to leave the house either through receiving treatment or coping with side effects of the treatment or cancer symptoms.

Ask First.

No matter how good your intentions, sometimes what you consider to be helpful could be misconstrued as intrusive. So ask first before you do anything or offer your services. Those going through cancer treatments can experience a wide range of symptoms on a daily basis and dealing with this as well as other people may be more than they can cope with.

On the same hand, some days they may be perfectly fine to take care of things themselves and want to retain as much normality as possible. So try not to surprise them and always call, plan ahead and ask before going ahead with anything.

The same goes for giving advice or looking into treatments. Ultimately, the choice in how they choose to treat their diagnosis is theirs and questioning this choice or showing different options may not be welcomed. So broach the subject carefully and be respectful of choices and decisions based on what they are going through.

Be flexible.

Living with cancer has many different faces. People look at it and deal with it in different ways. Emotions will be running high and this may affect their actions and behaviours. The same with coping with the side effects of treatments. Different treatments cause different side effects in different people. For example, there are different types of prostate cancer treatment so depending on what type they are going through, they can experience different symptoms.

So bear this in mind when making plans or arranging visits. Be prepared for them to change or be cancelled altogether as they battle to cope with everything their body is being subjected to.

Don’t Expect Them To Be Positive All the Time.

A positive mental attitude goes a long way when it comes to fighting cancer. However, remaining positive all the time is virtually impossible for most people, so don’t expect this from cancer patients. Appreciate they are going through something terrible and let them know it’s okay to not be happy all of the time.

Treatment for many cancers is physically gruelling and devastating on the body so be prepared for them to have good and bad days mentally and physically. they are going through something that will change them irrevocably so it is understandable that they will go through a range of emotions as they come to terms with this.

Learn About Their Particular Cancer.

Specifically the type of cancer they are dealing with. Knowing what they are facing and the treatment they will be going through will mean they don’t have to relive every single detail for you. This means you can be prepared in advance and know what to expect at every stage of the treatment plan. Ask close family and friends who may have more details or do your own research to learn what you can about what they are going through.

Retain Normality.

Just because your friend or a family member has cancer it doesn’t mean that is all they want to talk about or concentrate on. As much as possible, retain some sense of normality to help take their mind off what is happening. Follow their lead if you are unsure and allow them to dictate conversation topics, activities or anything else you usually get up to together.

Offer Practical Help

And then follow through on it. If you offer, remember they have enough going on and your assistance would be welcome for them to allow them to relax if they are having a particularly bad day. Simple things like doing the school run, picking up some groceries, or taking care of some household chores. Maybe you can cook dinner or take them out for a nice meal to get out of the house.

But remember to ask if this is ok first. It can be tempting to charge in and take control, however, this may not be needed. so as not to waste your efforts, always ask first if they need anything.

But the main thing to bear in mind when supporting someone close to you who is going through cancer treatment is how they feel. Always take a step back and look at things from their perspective. They will have a huge mental and physical load to work through during this time and ask yourself how do you think they are feeling or would feel before you do anything. This will be much appreciated and will make you feel better as you look to support them the best you can.

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