Cancer diagnoses can be just as hard for caregivers as it is for patients. Here is a list of 7 tricks and tips I used to help my mom and me when she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004 and 2009.
1. Be available
Most people prefer not to go through this battle alone. However, they may be feeling overwhelmed by the emotional battle that comes with a cancer diagnosis. Being present and simply saying “I’m here when you’re ready to talk” will show your loved one you are there for support.
2. Ask questions
Asking thoughtful questions can help to guide your research and make your loved one feel supported. Ask about recent test results, treatment options, and timelines for treatment. Be respectful when your loved one isn’t in the mood to answer questions, and find out if he or she would like to put you in touch directly with their healthcare team.
3. Do your own research
If you have take the time to learn how to read technical medical research, try running a search for your loved one’s condition in Pubmed, a site run by the National Institute of Health. There are a few sites that break down the scientific research to make it easier to understand. Try When Someone You Know Has Cancer, Cancer – A General Overview and What Is Cancer?.
Cancer is a serious illness, but humor helps to lighten everyone’s spirits. Let it happen organically. When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the first questions I asked was if she was getting a boob job. We laughed about how she would have a better set than me. Here is a video guide to cancer humor: Don’t Forget To Laugh, A Breast Cancer Survivor’s Story of Humor and Healing.
5. Keep your cool
Try not to add stress to your loved one’s life. It’s OK to feel angry, scared, or out of control, but it is best if you try to keep your cool. Even better, help them out more than you normally would.
6. Offer to help
You can expect that cancer will make everything in your loved one’s life more difficult. Little acts of kindness such as cooking dinner, cleaning the bathroom, or running an errand go a long way. Here’s a great list of little actions you can take: 23 Nice Things You Can Do For Someone With Cancer.
7. Find support
Make sure that you have the support you need to care for your loved one. Be active with a local church or community group. Join an online support group, keep a journal, and confide in a few close friends. Know that it’s normal and OK if you need to break down on occasion.
Do you have any tips for how to help loved ones with cancer? Please share by commenting below.