Cancer is a life-altering disease that affects not only the person diagnosed but also their loved ones. Family and friends play a crucial role in providing support and care for a loved one with cancer. Let’s explore some ways you can support a family member or friend after they have been diagnosed with cancer, drawing on tips from oncologists and nurses.
The first and most important thing you can do is to be there for your loved one. This means simply being present and available to listen, talk, and provide emotional support. Showing up and being there, whether it be in person or through phone calls, text messages, or video chats, can make a huge difference. According to an oncologist, the emotional support of loved ones is crucial for the patient's mental well-being and can greatly improve the outcome of treatment.
Another way to support a loved one with cancer is to help them navigate the healthcare system. Cancer treatment can be complex and confusing, and it is common for patients and their families to feel overwhelmed. Offer to help your loved one schedule appointments, fill out paperwork, and understand the treatment options available to them. A nurse recommends keeping a journal or calendar to keep track of appointments, medications, and other important information to make the process less overwhelming.
Another way to support a loved one with cancer is to help them maintain their daily routine. Cancer treatment can be physically and emotionally draining, and it is important for patients to maintain a sense of normalcy. Offer to help with household chores, run errands, or even just spend time with them doing something they enjoy. According to an oncologist, maintaining a sense of normalcy can greatly improve the patient's quality of life during treatment.
It is also important to be mindful of the emotional and psychological toll that cancer can take on a person. Cancer patients may experience a wide range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, and depression. Be there to listen and provide support, but also know when to seek out professional help if necessary. Encouraging your loved one to talk to a therapist or counsellor, especially if they are experiencing severe emotional distress can also be helpful.
Educate yourself about the disease and treatment options. This will not only help you understand what your loved one is going through but also make you more equipped to provide them with accurate information, resources, and support. I found these two websites very informative; Cancer Council and Cancer Australia.
Cancer can be financially draining, so it's a good idea to offer help in that regard if you can. From offering to pay for treatment, to helping with bills and groceries, or even finding alternative healthcare support or rebates.
It is a heavy load to carry so remember that you also need to take care of yourself. Supporting a loved one with cancer can be emotionally and physically taxing, Self care and setting boundaries to avoid burnout is essential.
So, although your role in supporting your loved one with cancer is a challenging one, it is a rewarding one too.
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