Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your loved one has to cope with cancer, and you’re unsure of how to help him or her? Well, you’re not alone. According to the National Cancer Institute statistics, there are close to 2 million newly diagnosed cancer patients each year in the U.S. alone. All of them need support through their treatment, and some patients have a challenging time coping with the pressure that cancer brings.
Why? Because the word “cancer” has several negative connotations to most people — primarily a fear of pain or dying. Although it is a physical disease, it can take a tremendous toll on both the physical aspect of a person as well as his or her entire “self,” which includes psychological, social, and spiritual functioning.
It is important to note that there is no right or wrong reaction because every feeling is perfectly natural. However, if emotional issues last longer than one might expect, there is a marked decline in the quality of life of the patient, and thus of their loved ones. So, here’s what you can do to help your loved one cope with cancer.
1. Understand The Changes In Their Behavior
First, the diagnosis of cancer or malignant tumor is stressful, but emotional responses vary from person to person. No two people will respond equally to the disease or face it in the same way. Most of them feel fear, a tendency to self-blame, or anger. Some patients suppress the fact that they have the tumor and sometimes act as if it is not happening to them.
What’s more, if your loved one has to take medication, the side effects can make him or her depressed. The feelings of sadness, loneliness, and a sense of loss of control over your own life is often inevitable. It is important to acknowledge the emotional toll this journey has on your loved one and to see them through eyes of compassion and understanding.
2. Let Your Loved One Open Up To You And Listen To Them
Second, you will probably experience your loved one being silent about his or her feelings. Try to ask them how they feel. If they refuse to talk, you should refrain from forcing them. They will eventually need someone to talk to. Once they do, listen to them carefully and provide them with kind words. Note that you should avoid giving any medical advice if you aren’t a licensed medical professional working on the patient’s case.
3. Show Compassion, But Don’t Overdo It
People do not like to be treated as disabled, even if they aren’t entirely independent. Although you have to show compassion, don’t let your loved one who’s coping with cancer feel as if you feel sorry for them.
Moreover, it’s a good idea to give a compliment to the person you care about if you think it will boost their confidence. But you don’t have to exaggerate trying to convey how surprisingly good they look. It can be a simple, “Your smile made my day today.”
4. Encourage Your Loved One To Lead An Active Lifestyle
As mentioned in #1, your loved one may experience changes in behavior, including not wanting to talk or leave the house. If your loved one starts experiencing these signs, it is important to encourage them to remain active while not criticizing their “new normal.” Try inviting them out for a picnic, a walk with the dog, or coffee with friends.
5. Offer Help When Really Needed
“Let me know if I can do anything!” sounds good, but it is a burden to a loved one who feels obliged to call you and ask for help. It is better to make a specific suggestion, such as, “May I bring you dinner on Thursday?” Or, “I know you’re going for a checkup tomorrow. I’ll come to get you and take you to the doctor.” Also, call when you are on your way to the store and ask if he or she needs anything. Just let your loved one know he or she can count on you at any time.
Here at CSNF, we’re dedicated to easing the way for your loved one coping with cancer as well as you. If you have a loved one who’s coping with a malignant tumor and would like to know more about how to help them, contact Cancer Specialists of North Florida.