How to Be There for a Loved One with Cancer
If your loved one was recently diagnosed with cancer, you may be wondering how you can support him or her. It may seem natural to pull away, as you are working through your own feelings, or feel the need to overcompensate your affection for them due to their recent diagnosis. When someone you loved is diagnosed with cancer, you are thrown into a path of unknown and uncertain territory. It is important to continue to be there for your loved one in the best way possible in the given situation. The following tips can help you maintain a healthy relationship with your loved one, while respecting their boundaries in the wake of their diagnoses.
The first thing that you should do is gather your thoughts and emotions and allow yourself to cope properly. The way we cope varies from person to person, but we encourage you to find a healthy, creative outlet to channel your emotions. As soon as you can gather your thoughts and have a clear mind, you should start to research the diagnosis that your loved one received. This information can come from research that you conduct on your own, your loved one’s doctors or someone that you know that has gone through this situation. By learning more about the cancer, they have been diagnosed with, you can prepare yourself for what is to come, what they may be feeling and how this diagnosis impacts their life. This will help you put yourself in their shoes and try to see the situation from their perspective. What are they likely feeling right now? Are you able to help them in this moment?
The next thing that you can do is treat your loved one as normal as possible unless, of course, he or she has limited physical or mental abilities due to their recent diagnosis. Many cancer patients feel as though their friends and family start to treat them as a project or tend to act differently towards them after they have been diagnosed. You should continue to visit them, speak to them and make plans with them just as you have always done. This will allow your loved one to feel as though they have some normalcy in this otherwise chaotic and overwhelming time in their life.
The best thing that you can do for your loved one during this time is to be there for them physically, emotionally and spiritually. Express your feelings and tell them how much they mean to you, as this will make them feel loved and appreciated. You should also convey to them that they are in your thoughts or prayers during this difficult time in their life. Offering a safe haven to vent, a space to just reflect upon life or to simply be together will allow your loved one to feel as though their cancer diagnosis is not taking the spirit out of their life.
If your loved one is starting to worry about how they will keep up with the day to day maintenance of running a household after their cancer diagnosis, consider hiring an in-home caregiver for them. Caregivers can do light housekeeping that he or she may not be up for, prepare meals for them or simply take them to their doctors’ appointments. An in-home caregiver can be a companion that will be there to watch over them. We hope that you will continue to be there for your loved one during this hard time. Remember that this is a sad and unfamiliar time for you, but it is even more so for them. Try to be there for them as a shoulder to cry on, a friend to have fun with and a support system.